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Church News

Central London church's online services would fill building 10 times over

by Cara Bentley

Online church services have proved a huge success for Methodist Central Hall Westminster, with viewing figures far surpassing the number of people they could fit in a single building. 

Most churches have reported an increase in interest and 'attendance' of their services since lockdown but since mid-March Methodist Central Hall has reached over 156,000 viewers from all over the world through their live-stream. 

The historic church's service on Sunday 5th July had over 20,000 views in its first week, a congregation that would have filled its Great Hall just off Parliament Square in London ten times over. 

It's been streaming via YouTube to reach the maximum number of people but will now launch a new website 'MCHW.LIVE' as a permanent home for online services.   

Since rules around places of worship were eased in June, Revd Tony Miles, Superintendent Minister at MCHW, has been broadcasting live from the Chapel inside the building and is joined by other contributors from across the country via Zoom.  

He said throughout history, moments of national uncertainty often lead to people turning to church: "During the war years William Sangster would fill the Great Hall for evening services, many of whom were gathered from other churches and beyond. Today, during a crisis of a different kind, MCHW is reaching even greater numbers by making use of new technology.  

"We are encouraged that these services are serving the wider Church and also impacting the lives of those who wouldn't normally attend a church service."

Speaking about the decision to keep services online for good, Dan Forshaw, who handles digital media at Methodist Central Hall Westminster said: "We realised quite early on that some form of live-streamed Sunday service was going to continue for the long-term...Our developers have worked closely with us to ensure the new site has everything people will need to interact with the services, be that singing, praying and listening to the sermon all from the comfort of their own home."

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