Churches go online to worship during virus crisis
PUBLISHED: 20:00 23 March 2020
Churches all over Suffolk are streaming services and sermons to their congegations to allow them to worship in their homes during the coronavirus crisis.
Church leaders have been using the latest technology to keep in touch with parishioners following the decision by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, to cancel public worship for the foreseeable future.
Contact has included daily prayers on websites, messages from studies and vestries on Facebook and emails to encourage people during tough times.
With most congregations having many older people, the contact has been vital.
The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: “We have been very moved by the way churches across the county are rising to the challenge of enabling people to worship while church buildings are closed.
“Clergy have been live-streaming acts of worship involving just two or at the most three people, always observing the protocols about social distancing to inhibit the spread of the virus.
“These acts of worship, prayers and sermons have been very well received and are attracting many followers on line.
“Clergy and lay ministers are also producing paper orders of service so people can pray in their homes, and follow an order of service from their homes at the same time each Sunday.
“Homes are the focus of our life of prayer and worship now, and will be for many months, and I am so encouraged at the ways clergy and congregations are responding to these very challenging times.
“I would also want to thank all the congregations and clergy across Suffolk for the incredible work being done with others to care for and support those who are vulnerable and isolated, including the self-isolating.
“This need will become ever more pressing as the days and weeks proceed.”
MORE: Churches face huge challenge in the way they do church.
Community radio stations are also playing their part – among them Felixstowe Radio, which is now hosting an hour of thought, reflection, prayer and chat every Sunday at 5pm with vicar of Old Felixstowe, Rev Chris Hood, and Rev Paul Clarke, of St Mary’s Church, Walton.
The archbishops have urged congregations to be in the forefront of providing practical care and support for the most poor and the most vulnerable.