The Orthodox Church of All Saints of Southern North Dakota featured its usual level of noise at Divine Liturgy this week even without parishioners in the church. Father Athanasios Nikoladis didn’t know how to make a webcast, so instead he used a web-meeting app but could not figure out how to mute the other participants.
As Father Athanasios, one reader and one choir member conducted the liturgy at church, the laptop lit up with parents providing an assortment of answers about our world punctuated by commands, including,
“Fish don’t snore. Pay attention to the liturgy.”
“I don’t know if the Holy Spirit is a girl or a boy, it doesn’t say what kind of dove it is in the Bible. Be quiet.”
“My head is not a drum. Stop.”
From there, the parishioners were silent for about ten minutes until Andrea Olson was heard saying to her 15-year-old daughter: “Get dressed, will you? It’s still church!”
Mandy Olson replied in a low moan, “Even when I’m wearing clothes, Joshua never notices me, so what’s the point?”
A minute later, Mandy Olson’s phone made four text notification chimes, followed by Mandy saying “Ew.”
Andrea was then heard saying, “Mandy, we don’t use our phones during church, what wait did they say?”
Joshua and three other boys had texted Mandy. Josh’s text said, “We sure would notice if you weren’t wearing clothes,” and Silouan’s was “please send pictures 😊” and the other two texts were similar.
Andrea then took her own phone and texted the mothers of Joshua, Silouan and the other two boys about this. Sixty seconds later, text notification chimes filled up the webcast followed by four mothers saying, almost in unison, “You said WHAT?” another mother adding, “No phone privileges for a week!”
For services next week, Father Athanasios intends to either get a tech-savvy parishioner to show him how to run a real webcast app or have people park their cars in the lot and not get out, with a set of loudspeakers turned up to maximum on the front step of the church.