DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am on the worship committee for my church, and we’ve had online Zoom services since March.
I often notice that during the service, people are eating, texting, getting up and down from their seats, talking to others and doing other varied activities that are suited to a living room but NOT A CHURCH SERVICE.
I find this rude to the people who have invested time and energy into providing the service. We on the committee are creating a “protocol” to share with the congregation to attempt to get them to behave, well, as if they’re at a church service.
Would you offer us suggestions on the wording, please?
GENTLE READER: Please do not think that Miss Manners is deserting you -- or propriety -- when she asks you to consider why this is happening.
Presumably, these people behaved when they were actually in church, or you would have mentioned it. Now they are in a living room. Or a kitchen. Or a bedroom. However solemn the content, the experience is like watching television. You are probably not expecting them to dress up.
So approach this knowing that they are not being intentionally rude. To persuade them to change, you must explain why:
“While we are unable to be in church, we would still like to maintain our usual decorum. If you must plan to do other things during the service -- for example, eating, texting or talking -- please turn off your camera and microphone.”