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andrew selous parliament may 20.JPG
Parliament TV
UK News

Church should prepare for online interest to continue post-lockdown, MPs hear

by Press Association

The Church of England will need to maintain a "significant" online presence after the coronavirus lockdown following a surge of interest, MPs have been told.

Conservative Andrew Selous, the Church of England's representative in the Commons, said the Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Day sermon was listened to by five million people and the Amazon Alexa church app has had a "70% increase in usage in the last month".

"Perhaps most notably the UK Blessing, coordinated by Gas Street Birmingham, has been downloaded 2.6 million times - and according to the Prime Minister is a 'sensational singing masterpiece' to which he's awarded a Points of Light Award," Mr Selous told the Commons.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce (Congleton) earlier said polling suggests one in four adults have joined a religious service remotely during the Covid-19 crisis, with a third of 16-to-30-year-olds taking part.

She asked for details on the church's work to ensure this continues, to which Mr Selous replied: "The church will need to keep up a significant online presence well after lockdown has finished."

Mr Selous also said the age of voluntary cleaners may cause difficulties in cleaning churches in between funerals, as he faced calls for improved access.

Conservative former minister Theresa Villiers welcomed the efforts to ensure people can access church services remotely, adding: "There are some situations when that's not a substitute for meeting in a place of worship with one's family.

"So can I urge the church commissioners and (Mr Selous) to speed up the introduction of small scale funerals within churches with social distancing observed because of the comfort they can really bring to people who are bereaved by this terrible crisis."

Mr Selous replied: "I know what a deeply difficult issue this is and the church will work with the Government on these issues to be able to do what she asks safely.

"I know she'll be aware that in many of our churches our cleaning is done by volunteers, some of whom are elderly and may have difficulty, for example, coming in between funerals.

"The point she makes is very valid and has absolutely been noted."

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