Virtual services help churches serve their communities this Holy Week

Virtual Church services help churches serve their communities this Holy Week

CHURCHES in Chelmsford Diocese (which covers Harlow) are embracing digital communications to help people worship at home and serve their communities in new and creative ways during Holy week.

Despite church buildings being closed, clergy and church leaders in Essex and East London are using digital communications to encourage home worship and to stay connected with their local communities.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, churches have changed the way they conduct services in recent weeks. Many church leaders are live streaming services online from their homes through platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. These online services are often attracting much higher numbers of people than normally attend church on a Sunday morning. Hundreds of live stream services are happening across Essex and East London, with the number of live streams in the diocese of Chelmsford second only to London Diocese.

Holy Week is the most solemn week of the Christian calendar when events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ are commemorated. The diocese of Chelmsford has launched ‘Holy Week at Home’, a collection of resources to support our churches and help Christians and those exploring faith to worship at home during Holy week. The wide range of materials, for each day of Holy Week, includes prayers, liturgy, videos, music and activities for all ages.

During Holy Week Chelmsford Cathedral broadcasting several acts of worship live on Facebook. As well as morning and evening prayer, there will also be a daily reflection throughout Holy Week read by the Rt Revd Dr John Perumbalath, the Bishop of Bradwell.

On Maundy Thursday (9 April), The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell the Bishop of Chelmsford will be leading a Eucharist from his home. Hundreds of ministers from across Essex and East London will join him on a Zoom call in place of a service that was due to be held at Chelmsford Cathedral.
On Easter Sunday, (12 April) at 3.30pm, the Diocese of Chelmsford will be broadcasting Bishop Stephen’s final service as the Bishop of Chelmsford on YouTube Premiere and Facebook Premiere.

Bishop Stephen said: “We are living through extraordinary days and we are all adjusting to how to do church differently in response to the coronavirus. It’s important that the Church continues to offer hope and comfort to its communities in this difficult time for our world.

“The Church has never been just a building it has always been its people. Online resources such as ‘Holy Week at Home’ are helping people worship at home. I’m hugely encouraged by how Churches in Chelmsford Diocese have embraced a different way of doing church, using digital technology. This shows we can still be a church community even though we are separated from each other.

“Although it’s extremely sad that all my final services have had to be cancelled, I’m looking forward to taking part in services online and sharing the joy of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.”

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