THE Church of England is ramping up the live-streaming of services this weekend after the coronavirus outbreak caused all churches to suspend activities. On Sunday morning, the Archbishop of Canterbury will lead a service recorded in the crypt chapel of Lambeth Palace — including a sermon, hymns, and prayers — to be broadcast online and across 39 local BBC radio stations.
Also on Sunday, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, will stream a ten-minute-long collection of prayers on his Facebook page at 10 a.m., 12 noon, 4 p.m., and 6 p.m.
Last Tuesday, both Archbishops asked the clergy across the country to wind down their activities in response to the Government’s warning that large gatherings of people could help spread the Covid-19 virus.
In his upcoming address, Archbishop Justin Welby will state: “In all of the current troubles, and they are very serious troubles, looking inwards will only reveal the limits of our own resources, and lead to deeper fear and selfishness.
“Acting in love found from God in Jesus Christ will do the exact reverse. As we look out from ourselves in love, we can enable people to find the place of their nurture, not their historic place but a new place where they meet God and find his consolation.”
Most, if not all, cathedrals will be live-streaming services. St Edmundsbury Cathedral plans to stream a service every day, led by the diocesan or suffragan bishop: evening prayer on weekdays at 5 p.m., and weekends at 3.30 p.m. Morning prayer will also be streamed each day from the Ipswich Oratory Chapel at 8.30 a.m.
“These are uniquely challenging times,” the Dean of St Edmundsbury, the Very Revd Joe Hawes, said. “We know how unsettled and anxious people will be feeling. Please know that we are continuing to hold in prayer those who are ill, self-isolated at home, vulnerable, and anxious.
Several private companies have offered support to churches attempting to set up live streaming. One such, Novum AF, is offering free telephone consultancies to those wanting to stream services or events online.
Tim Jacques, the company’s boss, said on Friday: “As a Christian who often has to miss church to work at major events in different parts of the country, I realise how debilitating it is on isolated occasions.” He recognised that many churches did not have the expertise to set up such a system.
“We are offering, free of charge, telephone consultancy to churches to talk them through how to live stream to Facebook or YouTube. Many churches will already have equipment suitable to stream live but need support in how to do it. Some may want to improve the quality of live stream and need pointing in the right direction. We can support them.”
More than 300 live-streamed services are now flagged on A Church Near You, and about 200 churches have taken part in national webinars to learn how to use digital platforms to reach their congregations.
Dave Walker on live-streaming