The Provost’s Forum: Sabbatical Stories

Here’s the video from a special Provost’s Forum that I held after the Eucharist today. The topic was my recent sabbatical trip to Canada and the USA. Cedric Blakey was interviewing me and passing on questions from members of the congregation.

Good fun to do and a great set of questions.

Sorry the audio is not better. Anyone who wants to help found a Guild of Geeks to help me do this kind of thing better is very welcome to get in touch.


  1. Dennis in Chicago says

    Thanks for posting this, Kelvin. I was hoping that we would get to hear some of your thoughts on the whole experience. I rather enjoyed meeting you when you came through town. Thanks for making time for a good conversation (about many of the things you mentioned in the video). Hope to see you (and St Mary’s) again soon!

  2. Guild of Geeks is brilliant. Every church should have one.

  3. So you’re both mic’d, but you’re using the audio pick up in the camera, right? You need a direct feed into the camera. The acoustics, which must be wonderful for singing and organ playing, are fighting you…

    Guild Member #029

    • Yes, that is the problem. That is not to begin to provide the solution.

      • Audio out from the sound system amp into the camera? or get some remote wireless audio devices to plug directly into the camera? A shotgun type directional mic might work too, but the other options seem preferable. Or move the discussion into a more neutral audio environment!

        • Thanks Andy – I know you are trying to be helpful, but the problem is more to do with a lack of person power than knowledge.

          You wouldn’t believe the tortuous path from the soundboard to the camera location. Nor would you believe the lack of space that we work with. The only location we have capable of holding the 80 or so people who stayed behind for this event on Sunday is the sanctuary.

          You probably wouldn’t be aware that a cathedral like this in Scotland operates with no staff on duty on a Sunday except for clergy and a musician. It is willing hands I am looking for.

  4. Rosemary Hannah says

    I know when I recorded on location for the BBC, the positioning of the mike was totally critical and I had to speak with it pointing towards the upper chest, and not move at all. Even with an experienced person to help me, we had to re-do some sections because I shifted inches.

  5. Ah, now I get it. It’s not a solvable problem!

  6. Andrew says

    Dear Kelvin,
    I agree with the general comment that the sould in the Cathedral can be awful, On the other hand I don’t think that you need either a lot of money or an army of geeks to put it right. We know that some speakers, such as Ian Halliburton reading the lesson, or you when speaking the prayer of consecration, are perfectly audible both in the nave and in the choir, This suggests that there is nothing basically wrong with the system at all. Speaking as an engineer, I think the following steps would give a great improvement:

    1. Train your speakers to talk at “cathedral speed” – that is, slowly and distinctly, and not to drop their voices at the ends of sentences.

    2. Train the speakers to hold the microphone at the right distance from their mouth, and not to move it about. A head-fitting mike might do well here.

    3.Educate speakers to SWITCH ON THE MIKE before they start, There should be a system to warn speakers that they have not done so, and they should start their piece again.

    4. I think it likely that the bangs and scratches we have heard recently are due to plugs not being properly pushed home, or else dry joints inside the plugs. I think one geek, armed with a multimeter and soldering iron, could fix the equipment in about 30 minutes

    Contrary to the prevous comment I think the problem is eminently solvable

    • Andrew, I think in fairness that Andy is referring to a different problem, which is how to get audio from the soundboard into a camera or another recording device in order to put it onto the web.

      That isn’t to discount your comments, but the issue that we were talking about is different one, albeit one which is related to the things you raise.

  7. Perhaps you can find a techie/geek young person in the community who might like to volunteer at the cathedral on Sundays. Could look good on a CV in the future! 🙂

  8. Andrew says

    You said, “You probably wouldn’t be aware that a cathedral like this in Scotland operates with no staff on duty on a Sunday except for clergy and a musician. It is willing hands I am looking for.”
    What about the Altar team, 4 stewards/greeters, various NSMs, volunteer readers and intercessors, and up to 40 choristers, all of whom are on duty and work hard to offer worthwhile service to Our Lord. Perhaps you meant “paid staff”, but even so you left out one of the organists.

    • Yes Andrew, you are quite right. I did miss out an assistant organist or perhaps an organ scholar. However, I don’t regard any of the others as members of the cathedral staff. I honour all they do for without it we could not do the wonderful things that make St Mary’s special. If I have a meeting with members of staff at the Cathedral, I am very clear that I am expecting to meet people other than the people whom you list.

      However, having travelled in the US quite extensively recently, I found that most people who are in the church over there (as Andy is) are very surprised to learn about the staffing levels that we have in a church like this in Scotland. It is a key element that needs to be understood when comparing things in one part of the world to another.

  9. Melissa Holloway says

    FYI. Our priest today at Trinity Church said that God lives in the Central Time Zone.

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