Using Zoom to connect with UUS

What is Zoom?

Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool that allows users to meet online, with or without video. You can join via a computer, tablet, or smartphone for visual teleconference, or you can simply dial in using your phone and listen in like an older-style conference call. 

Joining the Virtual Sunday Service at UUS:

Plan to set up your Zoom account before Sunday morning to get familiar with the program. Please note:

  • If you plan to call in using a telephone, please note that due to the high use of Zoom nationwide during the coronavirus outbreak, Zoom may not support telephone access for all meetings.
  • Using Zoom requires a fair amount of bandwidth from your personal internet connection. Lags and freezes in video and audio are common, especially if you have a bad connection or are using the internet for other purposes at the same time (including joining the service from multiple devices in the same home).
  • If you are joining the service from multiple devices in the same home and have your microphones turned on, it can cause feedback that everyone will hear if you are located too close to each other. We recommend either sharing one screen to watch the service, making sure there is plenty of distance between your devices, or turning off the audio and mic access on all devices but one.

Please remember that this is new for UUS staff too! We will be trying out different things during this closure to find what best works for virtually gathering. We appreciate your patience as we figure this out together!

Instructions for Participating in a Virtual Sunday Service

We will open the Sunday service Zoom meeting at 9:45 each morning to give people time to join, welcome each other, and work out any technical details. (Staff may not be available to help with issues- please try to help each other troubleshoot over audio, video, and the chat function during this time.)

Audio & video during the service

In order to prevent disruptions, you will be muted when the service starts and will be unable to unmute yourself until after the service.

We also will ask everyone to turn off their cameras during the service. You should see an option to Stop Video on your options panel, next to the Mute or Audio button.

(The staff will have the ability to turn off your video for you during the service if we’re worried about images being distracting. Once staff has locked your video off, only they can unlock you. If you have trouble turning your video back on after the service, send a message over chat asking staff to unlock you.)

There are two other settings that may improve your visual experience during the service. If you are on your computer and see lots of other participants’ windows, with or without video, there are two ways to remove them.

First, you can switch to Active Speaker mode. This should hide all participants aside from whichever service leader is currently speaking. Hover your mouse on your image window, then select the fat rectangle option to enable Active Speaker mode. (Also note that the option with multiple boxes or a grid will turn on Gallery mode, which may be helpful at the end of the service during Fellowship Time.)

The other thing you can do is to remove image windows for everyone who has their video turned off. To do this, hover your mouse over someone’s image, click the three dots, then select “Hide Non-Video Participants.”


You can remain connected with each other during the service by using the chat function. The chatbox can be found in your options panel. You can send messages to everyone or send private messages. There will be a couple of times during the service where we specifically invite you to type in a short response that everyone can read.

Changing your name

Depending on what device you are using to access Zoom, the name that shows up by your image may not be correct. It may be your device name, or the name of whoever owns your Zoom account. We would love to have your actual name displayed so everyone can connect better with each other. You may also want to add the names of family members watching with you.

Offering Donations

Since we can’t pass the offering basket, you can make your donation to our community partner online (see image below) or by mailing a check to the UUS office. Please be sure to use the memo line to note the agency. If you would like to give to a different fund, use this link instead.

After-Service fellowship

We are trying a variety of different ways of holding virtual Fellowship Time after the service. Currently, we are experimenting with small group breakout rooms. (Breakout rooms are Zoom meetings embedded in the main meeting).

At the end of the service, you will be invited to join a breakout room with up to 10 other randomly assigned participants. There you can meet and check-in with each other (just like you would at a table in the Fellowship Hall during Social Hour at UUS). These are not facilitated meetings, so your individual groups can each decide how and how long you’d like to interact with each other.

You do not need to join a small group session, and if you do, you can leave at any time to return to the main meeting, which will remain open for anyone who would prefer to enjoy fellowship time with the larger group.

Inquirer Sessions and Other After-Service Meetings

Visitors and potential new members are invited to join our Inquirer Session after the service, which offers a rotating opportunity each week to learn about a different aspect of UUS and how we connect and learn together.

Occasionally we also will offer other forums after the service. Check the website calendar, the monthly newsletter, and the weekly emails to see upcoming events.

Inquirer Sessions and forums take place through separate Zoom meetings. The links will be shared in the chatbox at the end of the Sunday service, and can also be found on our website and in the weekly emails.