More than 17,000 online services and events have been provided by Church of England churches since the introduction of the lockdown and restrictions on public worship earlier this year.
Figures from the Church of England’s A Church Near You website, which allows people to search for church services and events, ( our page is maintained by Patricia Duxbury—have you visited it?) show that more than 17,000 online services or events are now listed, including Sunday Communion services, Bible studies and morning or night prayer. Many of these services take place regularly and this figure represents a snapshot of the likely total number.
Most people know that St Mary’s has been part of this movement from the early days of the first lockdown, with daily Morning Prayer, Children’s Church services and now once more Sunday Morning worship all being made available online, as well as weekly Bible Study. Avid readers of the PCC minutes for November will have seen that there was discussion about funding the technology needed to livestream services as part of an ongoing effort to find funding for our vision to expand the reach of our church .(Streaming is the method of data transmission used when watching video on the Internet. It is a way to deliver a video file a little bit at a time, often from a remote storage location, which means that client devices do not have to download the entire video before starting to play it. Live streaming is when the streamed video is sent over the Internet in real time, without first being recorded and stored) .
The national online services are being watched by a wide range of ages and around one in five people viewing go to church infrequently or not at all. If we are to reach beyond our current congregation at St Mary’s and bring others who cannot or will not attend church into the light of Christ, we need to embrace a method which is already having a remarkable effect.
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “At a time when many have felt isolated and fearful, Church of England parishes and clergy have broadcast thousands of online church services and events, seeking to bring comfort and hope to their communities. We know that tens of thousands of those tuning in will never have had contact with their local Church of England parish before and may never have heard the Christian message. Their welcome presence is a sign of the great hunger we all have for spiritual meaning in our lives.”
Good news for St Mary’s is that a grant from the Financial Assistance Group of the Diocese has been made as a result of a bid submitted by Howard Riley, for which we are very grateful, but it does not, of course, cover the full cost of the work needed, so any donations towards it would be most gratefully received.
You can donate now through the website.