Chatbot for churchgoers among winners of first Church of England Digital Labs competition

02 March 2018

CHURCH OF ENGLAND

A delegate at the C of E Digital Labs films a talk, on Saturday

A delegate at the C of E Digital Labs films a talk, on Saturday

THE winners of the Church of England’s first Digital Labs competition were announced on Monday. The event, held in central London on Saturday, brought together technology and coding experts to design and build pieces of digital technology to help churches (News, 28 July 2017).

The two winning entries, Ask the Church and CofE House, were chosen by the judging panel: the Dean of Winchester, the Very Revd Catherine Ogle; Lynda Davies, a senior digital producer for BBC Radio; the C of E’s head of digital, Adrian Harris; the head of emerging platforms and partnerships at the LEGO Group, James Poulter; and Siku, an artist, author, and theologian.

Ask the Church is a chatbot that answers simple questions about the Church and faith on Facebook, Twitter, and the new C of E website. CofE House is a site to enable clergy and lay leaders across the country to pool high-quality resources, at both national and local level.

Both sites will be built and used by the Church in the coming year.

Mr Harris spoke on Monday about the breadth and depth of the ideas that had been generated.

“The two ideas we’re taking forward to pilot in the months ahead are both very practical, and aim to help grow people’s faith and bring more people to faith to know the love of God,” he said. “All of our work is about bringing people into the Church.”

Ask the Church and CofE House won because they were “both really practical”.

Mr Harris hoped that a second event would be held next year in the north of the country, to build on this year’s day-long event, which was attended by delegates from the UK, Finland, and the United States.

The Digital Labs programme forms part of a three-year digital and social-media transformation project, which, in turn, is a component of the C of E’s Renewal and Reform programme (News, 20 October 2017).

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