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World News

'Church at home' inspired thousands during the pandemic says C of E

by Donna Birrell

The Church of England has analysed data from more than 12,000 churches to find out about worship trends during the pandemic. 

Many churches offered online services at the height of the lockdowns and many have continued to offer a blend of traditional in-person worship and remote services since. 

Dr Ken Eames, of the Church of England’s Research and Statistics Unit said : 

"It would have been fascinating to have asked people early in 2020 whether they thought the Church of England would be able to switch at a moment’s notice to worshipping online and in other innovative ways. My guess is that the Church of England massively exceeded expectations."

More than 9,000 churches (78%) offered ‘Church at Home’ online, via email, post and telephone during the March to July 2020 lockdown when collective worship was suspended because of the coronavirus restrictions. 

More than 8,000, or 69%, offered livestreamed or pre-recorded services, while more than 5,000, or 44%, offered services downloadable from a website or emailed. More than 4,000, or 33%, offered printed and posted services and more than 2,000, or 21%, provided telephone or dial-in services. 

The majority were continuing to offer these services in October last year even though most were also open for in-person collective worship.

Welcoming the findings, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: 

"I thank God for the work of the churches over the pandemic including the huge effort that was made to provide worship at home.

"This has been a source of comfort and strength to so many people during a very difficult and challenging time. 

"It has also meant that many have been able to discover the Christian faith and hear the good news of Jesus Christ for the first time.

"Online services and videos have become part of a toolkit for how churches can offer worship. It is inspiring to see the life of our parishes sustained and revitalised in this way."

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