Church to offer virtual service

If you are feeling in need of a bit of spiritual inspiration but getting up early on a Sunday to visit your local church all seems like a bit too much effort, then why not have the service broadcast direct to your PC so you can pray from the comfort of your couch? That's the idea behind the latest innovation from Telewest Communications PLC-- broadband religion.

The cable operator has wired up the church of St Philip and St James in Bath to allow it to offer a live webcast of its Sunday service on 31 August. Viewers will be able to watch the sermon and sing along with hymns direct from their desktop. In fact if you log on to the website, you can even vote for which hymns you want to sing.

Reverend Alan Bain, who will conduct the service, says: "We want to see if we can attract a wider, younger audience to our church, even if they are not with us in person. We hope by breaking down barriers to religion our church will become more accessible to those who are unable or unwilling to attend the service."

Bain's comments reflect a more serious side to the experiment, as it will allow those worshippers who are housebound to enjoy a church service on Sunday. Although as a broadband connection is necessary to get the most out of the experience, this might serve to rule out many elderly parishioners.

To view and participate in the service visit www.broadbandreligion.co.uk.

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Ursula Seymour

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