Learning to Use Altar

We Are Moving to Altar

Starting Sunday 12th the Ethical Society will be gathering digitally on a new program called Altar. We will no longer be using Zoom for our Sunday morning programs! That means you have a little setup to do to ensure you can join Platform. This guide will help you find our Altar webpage; create your personal account; navigate upcoming events; join an event; interact with other participants; and find a meeting room.

Watch an Intro to Altar

Altar have created a useful informational video to help you get started with Altar – you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YlPLn6811M.

Finding the Ethical Society of St. Louis Altar Webpage

Our personal Altar webpage is: https://ethicalstl.altarlive.com/. Here you will find a calendar of all of the scheduled Ethical Society events on Altar. Platform will always be a Featured Event, and will appear under the “Upcoming Featured Events” heading. Other events will under the “Upcoming Events” heading below. (You can also view Past Events by clicking that heading.) We recommend you bookmark this webpage in your browser now, so you can always find it when you need to.

Joining an Event on Altar

To join an event on Altar, all you have to do is go to https://ethicalstl.altarlive.com/, find the event you want to join on the calendar, and click it. You’ll be taken to the event immediately. If it is not yet time for the event to start, you may see a countdown or a series of slides showing, but you’re in the right place. If you visit the site now, and want to try out the program’s features, join the event for any upcoming Platform and look around!

Learning to Use Altar

If you would like a guided tour of everything Altar can do, once you’ve joined an event you can click the Start button in the box called “Show me around Altar”. It will give you a guided tour of the program, and we recommend everyone comes to their first event a little early and uses this feature.

Show me around Altar button

Creating your Altar Account

Unlike Zoom, Altar does not require you to download a program to your computer: you can join right through your internet browser! However, for security purposes you will be asked to created an Altar account if you want to interact with other participants in a meeting. You can join anonymously, without creating an account, but if you do so you will be unable to chat or show your video.

To create your account, simply click “Log In” at the top right corner of the screen:

Log In button

You can use an existing Google account (for instance a Gmail account – this is the first option offered); you can use a Facebook account (this is the second option); or you can create an account just for using Altar by typing in an email address. If you choose this last option, you will be prompted to input your name, phone number, a photo, and to create a password. You may also be sent a “magic link” to the email you provide to verify your account: you can find these in your email inbox. These accounts are securely stored by Altar and enable the Ethical Society to stay in touch with you about upcoming events.

If you want to change any information in your profile – such as the photo you use, or your name, click on your profile icon in the top right corner of the screen and select “Edit Profile”. That will take you to a page where you can change your photo (by clicking the edit icon by the current photo), the name which is displayed, your password, etc.

Edit Profile option

Taking a Seat

Once you’ve created an account and are logged in, you are ready to take your seat! You’ll notice that the window is set up like a movie theatre, with a screen at the top and rows of chairs underneath. Just click on a chair to sit down! If there are other people sitting in that row, you will be automatically added to a video chat with them, so you can choose to sit with your friends and say hello! You can move around whenever you want to visit with different people, and your conversation will not be heard by anyone except the people sitting in your row.

Using your Camera and Microphone

Just like Zoom, Altar will require your permission to use your computer’s microphone and camera. To that end, when you take your seat you may be prompted to allow the program access. If so, just click the “Allow Camera And Mic” button which pops up, then “Allow” on the further popup which results. You should then see yourself, and others in your row will be able to hear you!

If you wish to mute your camera or turn off your microphone, all those settings are found beneath the video window, just as in Zoom. Click “Mic” to mute and unmute your microphone; click “Camera” to turn your camera on and off, and “Settings” opens further options you may wish to explore, such as which of your computer’s microphones and cameras Altar is using (if something doesn’t work, check there!). You can also use the “Leave Row” button to go back to being a passive spectator.

Mic and Camera Settings

Watching the Program

The program will play in the movie screen and you can watch it just like a live video on any other site. You can safely chat and discuss with your friends during the program: the live room won’t be able to hear you.

Using Chat and the Participants List

Just as in Zoom, you can use text chat to communicate with other participants, and see who else is in the meeting using a participants list. On Altar, these functions are accessed using icons to the right of the screen:

Chat and Members Online buttons

Hovering over these icons will bring up a description of what they are. In order, they are: chat; members online; announcements; polls; welcome & navigation. The most important are the first two: chat and members online. Clicking the Chat icon will bring up the chat window, which will allow you to see both chat messages sent to everyone (under the General tab) and chat messages sent only to you (under the My Chats tab). Clicking the Members Online icon will bring up a list of participants in the meeting, which you can search using the search bar. One neat feature of the Members Online list is that you can find where a friend is sitting in the virtual auditorium by searching for their name and clicking on it!

Using the Lobby

After Platform is over, we may switch everyone into the Lobby, a different sort of online space for hanging out and discussion. The Lobby works just like the main event space does, except that there is no movie screen, and the participants are organized around little tables. Just click a seat at the table you like, and you can talk with and see your friends sitting at the same table!

Using Altar on Mobile

If you prefer to join our programs using a mobile device such as a phone or a tablet, you can download the Altar app from your device’s app store. You will be prompted to create an account (see above), then will be taken to a page where you can search for a community. Type “Ethical Society of St. Louis” into the search bar and select us in the results which come up. You’ll be added to our community and taken to the events page. From there, just tap an event to join!