Ponderings: The screenshot just isn’t the same…

zoom screenshot of meeting

For more than 10 years, I’ve had many opportunities to capture the life and work of the Moravian Church in still images, video and audio. Photos and videos from major provincial and interprovincial events like synods and festivals, along with smaller gatherings and congregational celebrations, fill the bulk of my photo library.

But this past year and a half, many of those significant events in the life of the North American Moravian Church have gone virtual. While online events have their benefits –eliminated travel costs, time savings, the ability to participate without endangering ourselves or others, etc.–they also remove the rare opportunities to be together with Moravians from many different places.

For example, instead of traveling to Wisconsin, Alberta or right around the corner to Moravian College (now University) for Northern Province district synods, I witnessed those every-four-year events on a computer screen in the Church Center conference room.  The Southern Province Leadership Focus event in Winston-Salem?  Delivered my presentations from my office in Bethlehem instead of in front of a group. The Moravian Music Festival? Watched from a desk in my daughter’s old bedroom. 

As most of us have discovered, church life isn’t the same when you’re looking at it on a screen. And for me, along with not physically being together, these online gatherings offer limited opportunities to capture images. Screenshots of Zoom meetings or virtual events pale in comparison to the real thing.  I now have a substantial 18-month hole in my photo library!

During this time of limited travel and virtual events, I invite your help in chronicling the current work of the church. While major church gatherings have been curtailed, there has been amazing work happening in our congregations. Churches got creative with worship, reached out to their communities in new ways, found ways to continue connecting and sharing the Good News—all despite the restrictions and challenges these times have wrought.

Here’s how you can help. I invite each Moravian congregation, agency, ministry, camp or partnership to share one or two images that best reflect the work going on today in your part of the Moravian church. Along with the images, please provide a description of the image, identify those in the photos, and indicate your permission for use in future IBOC-produced media.  Please send them to [email protected] at any time.

I look forward to witnessing the work of our church through your images. At the same time, I’m hopeful I’ll be back with my camera to capture the spirit of our church in-person soon.


Mike Riess,