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Two thirds of churches in UK plan to keep streaming online, says survey

by Cara Bentley

Almost two thirds of UK churches in a survey of 1,000 church leaders plan to carry on streaming online once restrictions lift. 

According to the faith insurance group Ecclesiastical and The Bible Society, 93 per cent of churches have used new ways to keep in touch with their congregation and over two in five churches (43 per cent) saw an increase in attendance as a result. 

Live streaming has undoubtedly helped churches keep their services going during the pandemic, but this research suggests most, 62 per cent, would like the new habit to stay. 
In the survey, 93 per cent said that they had used the video platform Zoom since March 2020, while others used Facebook (60 per cent), YouTube (5 per cent) and Microsoft Teams (1 per cent) to stream to their congregation.

Over two in five of the churches who had used these new channels said that they had seen an increase in attendance against their usual numbers, leading most to say they will carry on streaming after lockdown ends.

For example, the vicar at St. Edmund's Church in Taverham in Norfolk, Revd Paul Seabrook said: "At the height of the pandemic we were getting over a hundred visits to our Facebook page a day, ten times as many as beforehand. We've had people tuning in from all over the country and even as far away as Arizona!

"By using social media we've been able to reach many more people than ever came through the actual church door each week, so it's definitely something we're looking to continue offering."

The popularity of the live streamed services led to the church posting a series of 'Bitesize' prayers read by members of the congregation and a music and dance class for young children. 

Paul said: "We've begun opening the church for private prayer every day from 9am - 5pm, and we've moved some services outdoors come rain or shine so that we can have 30 people physically attending...We will of course keep streaming services online and look forward to developing that more as time goes on.

"There is certainly more hope now than there was this time last year and we look forward to the Lord leading us from this difficult time into freedom and new beginnings."

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