The Virtual Church has arrived as congregations across the Church of England find ‘new-ways-of-being ’ in the digital realm as a response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Following the suspension of gathered public worship, parish churches have taken themselves online to Live Stream virtual church services, prayers and other church life events via Facebook Live, Youtube and Instagram.
The Virtual church is open for business!
In some churches, clergy are streaming their own thoughts and services from home, others are using the setting of the church for their backdrop. One vicar said : “The important message is we are open for business and all are welcome. It’s just a ‘new way of us being church’.
The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, has been pro-active in taking to Facebook to share the Gospel. Watch Him sharing this short message about the impact of the coronavirus, as part of an Easter message.
Speaking about the rise of the virtual church Bishop Butler had this to say: “When offering God worship and prayer, and the pastoral care of the most vulnerable are the only things that we can continue to do, what does it look like in our context?
“It will look different in villages from big estates. It will be different where everyone in the community has access to the Internet from communities where usage is still low. It asks us to focus on the essentials in a way that we don’t always need to do in normal times, in a new and creative way.
“Let us pray that God will guide us to be imaginative and creative in our worship and prayer as God’s pilgrim people. Let us commit to keep serving the neediest in our communities, keeping in contact to avoid loneliness and unhelpful isolation.
“Let us pray that we will emerge from this time a different church – one that has learned afresh to be God’s own people.”
A Church Near You
The Church of England’s Church Near You site provides listings of what the virtual church is up to, regular updates and details of things local parishes are doing, and when churches are open for personal prayer.
For more from Bishop Butler and Durham Cathedral visit the Diocese of Durham site which lists churches in their area that have responded to the pandemic with live streamed content.