It's probably not the first time this has been done, but it's a first for me - today we open radio.sirimangalo.org, the new home of monk radio, and our first event is a regular refuge and precepts (both five and eight) taking. Our test run this morning went well, and there's another one scheduled for 7:30 Sri Lankan time (2 PM UTC, 10 AM EDT, 7 AM PDT). All are welcome.
I was asked today whether I think this sort of ceremony is necessary, or whether one can take refuge and precepts by one's self. The point of the formal ceremony is as an encouragement, and this I think is doubly important for those living in far-away lands without a group of fellow practitioners or a teacher to provide this encouragement. Taking refuge itself is a great way of encouraging one's self in goodness and abstention from badness, but having contact (even cyber contact) with someone who has already taken refuge who can act as a guide to taking refuge one's self is an even greater encouragement, I should think.
Anyway, it's an experiment, and if the results are positive, it must be a good thing.
Hope to see you there! Only one hour and ten minutes until our second test. After that, check back for updates on our first real session.