I have always dreamed about new ways of doing and being Church, ones which honor our rich Episcopal tradition while inviting people of all ages, faith roots, and life experiences to come to the table. Back in 2008, I sat in a seminary classroom in Berkeley, California. I was taking a course called New Media in Worship & Preaching with the Rev. Dr. Micah Jackson. Micah challenged the students—soon-to-be-priests and Christian educators and youth ministers—to create projects that incorporated new forms of media into worship, as the church had been using media in the form of icons for centuries. I wanted to use the model of an instructed eucharist—in which the history of the eucharistic rite and the symbolism of the service are explained in narrative form—and make a more seamless liturgy that was stimulating and enlightening. Taking inspiration from VH1's Pop-Up Video series, the How2charist was born.
While the early PowerPoint version was edifying and enjoyable, many friends, colleagues, and parishioners asked whether this was something that could be made available more broadly. I dreamed of partnering with someone who could bring the technical background to make this a reality. The opportunity arose when I began working with the talented Jeremy Tackett. As I excitedly explained my vision of sharing a live How2charist with the parish, Jeremy immediately jumped on board and started naming off the numerous pieces of equipment and tech assistants he'd need. We both saw each other's excitement and knew this project needed to be something easily accessible by individuals, churches, seminaries, schools, dioceses, and more. We knew it needed to preserve the beauty of the Book of Common Prayer liturgy, be informative and prayerful, and be of a quality that would make it a shareable resource for the whole Church.
In December 2015, we launched a Kickstarter for the How2charist project which met its fundraising goal in the first six hours, and doubled by the next day. The interest and support was so overwhelmingly positive ("Can we do this in Spanish?" "What about the wedding rite?" "Would you like to partner on making an Episcopal-Lutheran version?") that we needed to go back to the drawing board and envision ways to make this project even more wide-reaching and accessible.
In the spring of 2018, in partnership with The Episcopal Church's digital evangelism team, plans were made to relaunch the How2charist project Kickstarter. As part of that partnership, the How2charist project will serve as a model to support individuals, parishes, and dioceses as they innovate and create new ways to reach folks. The basis for the partnership is that raising financial support to make the project viable is my responsibility as the project's creator. The digital evangelism team has supported the project by providing guidance and technical direction, resourcing with other offices as needed (from formation to evangelism to tech), and by giving me the tools needed to launch and scale the idea for a larger audience.
Along the way, we're documenting how the progress is going. We've recorded a couple episodes of a podcast that we hope to release alongside a series of blog posts that share my experience and learnings as the process unfolds and the project grows. We are hopeful that by partnering, we can create not only a great resource but a path for others with the next great ideas for the Church.
The 2018 Kickstarter was successfully funded in July, we filmed in August, and the How2charist: Digital Instructed Eucharist was released to the world in December!