Across the internet this Easter, on social media and via websites, there will be a huge range of opportunities to hear the Gospel message from The Church of England in Lancashire.
As the coronavirus lockdown continues, congregations are unable to worship together as churches remain closed.
Speaking today, Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, who is chairing the Diocesan Coronavirus Task Group, said: “Holy Week is one the highlights of the Christian calendar as we live the events of the dying and rising of Christ and renew our faith and hope in the resurrection.
“It is particularly important to acknowledge that for the priests and lay leaders of our churches, as well as the congregations we serve, to be deprived of the opportunity of gathering on Easter Day will cause deep pain.
“At the same time, I am encouraged by the response from all our parishes and our Cathedral in Blackburn in these difficult times in creatively producing digital content for people to engage with online.
“In addition, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Bishop of Lancaster and I have been able to record services for viewing on our Diocesan YouTube channel; where you can also find our annual Easter messages to the Diocese. There are also a host of fantastic Holy Week digital resources available on the Diocesan website.
“We are seeing terrific responses to all our online video content in these times – much higher viewing figures than before the crisis. It seems people everywhere are hungry to hear more of the transformative truth of the Resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate at Easter.
“We pray that, as well as serving our usual congregations that through our combined digital presence, we are reaching new people who may decide to come to visit our churches and learn more about God when the virus outbreak is finally over.”
A summary of the digital highlights across the Easter weekend:
- Our parishes and ‘A Church Near You’: For churches across Lancashire using livestreaming, video or other technological solutions you can use the interactive map on A Church Near You here. If you don’t go to church normally (or if your church is not online) why not find the church nearest to you via the map?
- Bishops’ Easter services: Via the Diocesan YouTube Channel Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn will be leading a short service on Maundy Thursday in which clergy can renew the promises of Ordination together. This will be released at 11am.
- The following day on the same channel, Bishop Julian will lead a Good Friday Meditation (released at 2pm) and on Easter Sunday morning Bishop Julian, Bishop Philip and Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, will join together on YouTube for a special Easter Sunday service (released at 9am). All these services have been recorded in advance and will remain on the channel permanently after initial uploading.
- In addition, and before the lockdown, Bishop Philip also made three recordings at St Laurence Church in Chorley: Maundy Thursday Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper; Good Friday Liturgy of the Day (with reading of St John’s Passion) and an Easter Morning Eucharist with Renewal of Baptismal Promises. These will also be available on the St Laurence YouTube channel on and after the relevant days.
- Easter Messages 2020: The Bishops’ annual Easter messages are also available on YouTube: click here for Bishop Julian’s; click here for Bishop Philip and click here for Bishop Jill.
- Blackburn Cathedral: Meanwhile, Lancashire’s Anglican Cathedral in Blackburn is also active online, with content available for everyone to engage with, including daily reflections during Holy Week on their own YouTube channel and the Cathedral Facebook page while their YouTube channel will also feature the Bishops’ videos for Easter weekend.
- Other digital resources: And that’s not all … the Diocesan website’s Covid-19 prayer and resources page for Holy Week you will find a guide to keeping Holy Week at home; home service sheets; meditations; some fantastic resources for children and young people from the Diocesan Board of Education; links to national church digital resources and more.