The Church of England’s Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the CofE’s 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access. The idea has been suggested by Lord Lloyd-Webber in an interview with The Mail on Sunday, where he suggested that connecting churches to the internet would make them the centres of their communities once again.
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One church in London has already embraced technology in an effort to reconnect with young people in its community. St Peter De Beauvoir, Hackney, has allowed a team of researchers from University College, London, to install a number of digital experiments inside the 170-year-old church.
A WiFi-enabled prayer candle system allows visitors and parishioners to type a prayer for someone and see a virtual candle lit for them on a screen. A motion-sensor-activated font lets people inscribe their worries or sins on to a touchscreen and see them symbolically disintegrate into the waters.
Prayers can also be projected on to the floor, and the academics are looking into fitting interactive lighting or even talking pews.
The Vicar, the Revd Julia Porter-Pryce, said: “This is a unique opportunity for the congregation and the community to be involved in cutting-edge research and to consider questions about what it means to be human in a digital age.
“St Peter’s hopes it will help the church to develop deeper ways of communicating digitally and that the project will engage many more people than those who take part in Sunday and weekday worship.”