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Diocese of Exeter
Diocese of Exeter
Diocese of Exeter
Diocese of Exeter
Church News

'Telephone worship' proves a hit with the over 70s in Devon

by Heather Preston

A priest in the diocese of Exeter has launched a telephone worship service for parishioners after public worship was suspended by the Church of England in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Many congregations have been meeting digitally through online services to connect with their church communities following the new measures. 

Reverend Ruth Frampton is Priest in charge of the Teign Valley and Haldon Mission Community made up of 6 rural village churches in Dartmoor.

She says many of her church members do not have access to streaming facilities and fall into the vulnerable category of over-70s and those with underlying health concerns.

Speaking to Premier she explained that using a conference call facility made the most sense for her parishioners.

"The one thing that we've all got in common to help us communicate is the landline telephone. The mobile phone signal around here is not good."

Frampton's first telephone service took place on Mothering Sunday with over 80 people joining her in a 30 minute service of thanksgiving from across the country.

Over the phone, those listening could hear praise, thanksgiving, readings and prayers that could be followed without an order of service.

Frampton said she hadn't expected to reach quite so many people.

"I've had very, very positive feedback. We had 59 call-ins, a third of which were households of two people - husband and wife or partners who were listening. 

"We had one or two people phoning in from Gloucestershire and a parishioner who was in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and the whole of her ward joined in. That was quite exciting," she said.

Frampton plans to hold another 30 minute service this coming weekend, with the addition of an organist on the call to assist them in sharing hymns.

Since the introduction of alternative services, the Anglican Church has seen a surge in attendance, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In an interview with ITV News at Ten Justin Welby said "ten times" as many people were logging on to meetings than those who turned up in person at church.

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