A CHURCH in south London has launched a virtual service in an attempt to attract young people to Christianity.
The church, St Mildred’s, Addiscombe, has created WOWChurch, an online church aimed at 13- to 25-year-olds. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., visitors can talk to chat-hosts, watch videos about faith and the Church of England, or submit a short prayer and light a virtual candle. It was launched at the end of last month.
WOW (Without Walls) Church is thought to be one of the first C of E virtual churches. It was created with the help of a Fresh Expressions grant from Southwark diocese.
Twenty chat-hosts take turns answering questions and communicating with people through the website. Since its launch, an average of two to three conversations take place each day, and 100-150 people visit the virtual church each week.
St Mildred’s Centre Manager and the founder of WOW Church, Leander Garner, said: “A year ago, we thought about running an Alpha youth project, but we realised that no one would come. We were doing a really rubbish job of dealing with teenagers. People are very accepting of the fact that teenagers leave church until they have children of their own. So we were thinking about how we can engage with that group”
She explained that “most of the people they chat to are lonely, or have worries about going to church”.
Besides attracting young people to the Church, the initiative seeks to “educate and raise awareness about all kinds of issues, from drug use to mental health”.
Despite having had difficulty explaining it to some members, Ms Garner said, “the congregation are massively supportive. We have had some lovely messages of support as well as difficult chats.”