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Prisoners and families unite for online church service

by Marcus Jones

Inmates across the UK have been given the opportunity to worship together with family members through the first ever online prison church service.

The Church of England's weekly national service was made available through TV and radio in prisons across the country on Sunday while friends and relatives were able to watch online from home.

The move comes at a time where social visits to prisons have been suspended.

Recorded at three sites - HMP Stocken in Rutland, HMP Low Newton in Durham and HMP Pentonville in London - the service will include contributions from prison staff and chaplains, along with prayers, reflections and artwork written and created by prisoners.

Lucy Frazer QC MP, Prisons and Probation Minister at the Ministry of Justice said: "To prevent outbreaks of coronavirus in our prisons, we have temporarily put in place a restricted regime and paused all social visits to help protect staff, prisoners and the public.

"It is great to see examples of how technology is allowing prisoners to connect remotely with their families, and I am delighted that we can continue to do that with our first-ever virtual prison church service. 

The service, with the theme of hope, was led by Rev Helen Dearnley, Anglican chaplaincy adviser for HM Prison and Probation Service. 

Speaking to Premier, she said: "Families were able to listen at the same time, they had the same service sheet to follow, they sang the same hymns and heard the same prayers written by prisoners themselves."

You can watch the service here:


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