Worshipping communities across The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) continue to adapt to their buildings currently being closed by using the latest technology available.
All this online activity in response to the coronavirus outbreak is a very tangible way of illustrating the deep appetite for faith, hope and indeed lament in our communities at this challenging time.
The technological boost reached a new peak during the recent Holy Week and Easter weekend.
Before the outbreak, the interactive map on the A Church Near You website showing those using livestreaming, recorded video or other technological solutions to broadcast their services featured 12 churches in Lancashire.
The map now shows 70 churches and the number continues to grow. (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?)
Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, said today: “There’s been a real upsurge in matters of faith, and people wanting to explore the big questions of life and death. Before, during and after Holy Week our churches continue to report high levels of engagement with services, prayer meetings, video messages and exploring faith courses.”
“The amazing imagination and innovation shown by many parishes is a real blessing in these difficult times and has presented us with new opportunities to share the Gospel message with many who may be hearing it for the very first time.
“Online services and video messages featuring the Bishops and Archdeacons have been viewed more than 22,000 times in total and subscribers on the Diocesan YouTube channel have increased by more than 50% on the total before the lockdown. I spoke to a Christian conference, Spring Harvest Home, recently; they had made their resources free online. Viewing figures were 7500 live and ten times that over the course of the week.
Technology is being used in a huge variety of ways, with Bishop Jill even carrying out the ‘virtual licensing’ of a Priest shortly.
Rev Adrian Wolton was licensed on Sunday, April 19, via video conferencing technology as Pioneer Priest-in-Charge of Blackpool Christ Church with All Saints, while his wife Fran was commissioned as a Pioneer Lay Minister. Adrian’s full Institution and Induction as Vicar will take place when possible to do so. The licensing is still available to be viewed on Facebook.
And from this week a new video is also available, ‘Stations of the Resurrection’, featuring Bishops and clergy from across the Diocese; 13 contributors in all.
The video originates from St Laurence Church, Chorley and has been produced by Rev Neil Kelley with Justin Stretch, who is a member of the congregation and the worship group at St Laurence, and features art by Leeds-based artist Si Smith.
The video will be available for two weeks from 6pm on April 18 via the St Laurence YouTube channel.
A selection of other recent highlights/examples of how our churches are adapting …
Meanwhile, Blackburn Cathedral has a Sunday service available each week on the Cathedral YouTube channel.
And Sunday services with the Bishops and Archdeacons of the Diocese also continue every week on the Diocesan YouTube channel.
This Sunday’s service features Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster. It is available from 9am on April 26.
Ronnie Semley, April 2020