Author Archives: Kirk Perry

Spread holiday cheer (even in 2020) with Google

As the year comes to a close, my family and I are looking forward to the much-needed cheer of the holiday season. For us, the holidays symbolize the joy of reconnecting with friends, spending time with loved ones and together as a community. While we’ve had to be more creative in planning the "together" part this holiday season, the Perry household is still looking forward to our annual family gift exchange during Christmas. 

I’m one of the two executive sponsors of Google’s Inter Belief Network, an employee resource group that provides a voice to more than 7,000 Googlers of religious or belief-related communities. Formed in May 2018, we seek to create a thriving community where Googlers are empowered to practice their beliefs, and promote mutual respect, understanding and allyship. I’m celebrating Christmas this year, and my fellow IBN sponsor James will be lighting the menorah each night of Hanukkah with his family. 

We hope that you can keep your meaningful holiday celebrations alive this year as well. With Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the Lunar New Year celebrations right around the corner, here are some suggestions for using technology to stay connected with friends, loved ones, and your faith community.

Two weeks before the holiday 

As you get ready to virtually light a Menorah, read the Christmas story or exchange red envelopes with each other, here are a few Google tools my family is using that might also help you and yours prepare for the upcoming festivities.

  • You can share photos with friends and family from throughout the year by creating a “Year in Review'' shared album. 

  • Build a joyful playlist by sending out a Google Form to gather everyone’s favorite songs.

  • A Chromebook or Pixelbook Go can help ensure all attendees are able to partake in the virtual gathering. 

One week before the holiday 

Ensure everyone has the final details before the big day. Preparation is key for a successful event!

The day of the holiday 

The holiday has finally arrived! Bring a cup of hot chocolate and cookies to the festivities. 

Come together, virtually

My family and I will be using this season to relax, celebrate and reconnect. Connection to one another and to our wider communities is an essential part of our wellbeing, and technology can help bridge physical distance and bring us together in celebration. From my family to yours, we wish safe and healthy holidays to all.

How your faith community can come together online

Over the past few weeks and months, people all over the world have been learning new ways to stay connected to each other while remaining apart physically. Faith communities are rapidly shifting from traditional in-person gatherings to online—sometimes for the very first time. 

With Passover, Easter, Ramadan and other important holidays coming up this month, we want to help these communities make this shift. Here’s a look at how faith communities can use technology to stay connected and stay safe during COVID-19.

Stay informed on the latest

As local health and safety guidelines change, how you deliver services and support to your community may be affected. Keep up to date by following credible, official sources like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and local governmental health departments so you can respond quickly to changes that affect you or your community. Google’s COVID-19 news hub provides the latest updates from global health authorities.

Update information about your place of worship 

Your community will need to know when, where and how they can connect. You can proactively share important information about how your place of worship is responding to COVID-19 through email, on social media, and by updating how your information appears when people search for your place of worship online. 

Edit your Business Profile on Google to reflect new hours of operation, or use Google Maps Posts to communicate information directly on your Business Profile, like informing your congregation of a shift to virtual gatherings. You can also set up an email auto-reply with answers to frequently asked questions to respond quickly to direct inquiries, or add an email signature with links to frequently asked questions.

Host services, prayer and study groups online

As shelter-in-place orders are enforced by many local, regional and federal governments, faith communities have started to move their weekly worship services, prayer and study gatherings to virtual formats.  

One of the most helpful tools you can use to gather virtually is YouTube. If you don’t already have a YouTube channel, learn how to set one up. You can then record a service, discussion, or worship session on a device like a cell phone or laptop, upload it to your channel and share the link. Alternatively, you can live stream on YouTube to broadcast real-time discussions or sermons. You can use YouTube Community to promote conversation, and organize your YouTube channel to bring the most important videos to the top of your page. You can find more helpful information and tips for YouTube in this blog post

Google HangoutsGoogle Calendar and Google Docs can also help you run virtual prayer and study gatherings. Hangouts permits up to 25 participants at a time to virtually connect via their Internet browser or mobile phone. Google Calendar can automatically create an event with Google Hangouts access links for all invited participants, and Google Docs allows you to prepare, share and collaborate on notes or study gathering questions.

Raise support from your community

Many faith institutions receive charitable donations during in-person gatherings, but when in-person attendance isn’t possible, other tools can help you continue to raise funds. Google for Nonprofits can support your 501(c)(3) or equivalent organization and help you reach more donors online.

Come together, apart

Connection to one another and to our wider communities is an essential part of our wellbeing, and technology can help bridge physical distance and bring us together in celebration. We wish safe and healthy holidays to all.