London: In a novel initiative, the parish church of St Augustine of Canterbury, in Rodbourne, England has launched a prayer service that is widely accepted in the digital age. A dedicated dedicated number for churchgoers to send in their prayers, thus making up for their absence.
Called ‘text-a-prayer’, the initiative is the brainchild of St Augustine’s lay minister, Neil Fisher, who was trying to think of a way of catering for members of the congregation who could not attend services in person, whether because of busy schedules or infirmity, reported The Telegraph.
Mr. Fisher acknowledged the fact that people appreciate prayers being said for them and that everyone has a mobile phone these days. “It’s very simple. People can text the prayers they want people to pray for them and they will be read out during the mass. It’s a brilliant way to connect people with prayer in the modern age,” Mr Fisher told the daily.
The church’s mobile number which is on its website for the members of the congregation, the texts once received are checked thoroughly before being read out in order to avoid any prank or malignant message. The text messages are then read out at the following mass as part of the prayers at the church’s weekly services.
“All requests are screened to ensure they are suitable for use during Sunday worship and anyone beyond Rodbourne is welcome to use the service,” said Mr Fisher.
Since the launch of the initiative earlier this week, St Augustine has received prayers for sick, loved ones and for peace in Syria, reported The Telegraph.
Reverend Harvey Gibbons appreciating the initiative said that it is an easy way for those who can’t make it to the church, to contact the church directly and still be part of the services.
“They are similar in subject matter to the sort of prayers we get at a normal Sunday service. But it’s a very innovative way of praying. I think it is something other churches will start to think about as it’s another avenue that ought to be explored,” Rev Gibbons told the daily.
This initiative by the St Augustine church is seen as a move to continue the Digital Evangelism by the Church of England. Reportedly, many churches around Britain stream their services online allowing many parishioners to be present in spirit if not in body.