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Church Surfing via Telewest Broadband
By: MarkJ - 28 August, 2003 (1:09 PM)

Telewestís blueyonder broadband cable-modem service has teamed up with several UK churches to broadcast a live Sunday service on the web (news delayed from yesterday - sorry):

Virtual flock to resurrect church attendance
Congregation to surf through hymns in the comfort of their own home

A weekly visit to church in your Sunday best could soon become a thing of the past, with the emergence of super-fast broadband internet services set to transform the face of religious worship in Britain.

At 10.30am on Sunday 31 August, St Philip and St James in Bath will become the first UK church to broadcast a live Sunday service on the web, using technology from cable company Telewest Broadband.

The unique experiment will allow worshippers around the UK to pray from the comfort of their home, with broadband providing a high quality link to the sermon. Perfect for those who have trouble getting out of bed on a Sunday morning, the elderly, or anyone who is unwilling or unable to get to church.

Reverend Alan Bain, who will conduct Britain's first virtual sermon as part of his regular Sunday service, said: "We want to see if we can attract a wider, younger audience to our church, even if they're not with us in person. With more and more people getting broadband internet access at home, adding a technological twist seemed the most logical answer.

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.

The pilot project will allow remote worshippers to watch and listen to the full sermon through their PC and a high-speed internet connection. They'll also be able to join in with the congregation and sing along to their favourite hymns, or enjoy interactive voting as popularised on TV shows such as Pop Idol and Big Brother.

Chad Raube, director of internet services at Telewest Broadband, added: "Sadly, it seems some Sunday rituals such as the sitting round the table with the family are on the decline, but this is a fantastic example of tradition embracing technology.

This is the first time Telewest Broadband has installed a church with our blueyonder internet services but, if the pilot is a success, who knows what the church of the future might look like.

To participate in the first broadband internet sermon in Britain, just click on the following link: http://www.broadbandreligion.co.uk. To really appreciate the webcast you'll need a broadband internet connection of at least 512kp/s (kilobits per second), but if you don't mind a much smaller, jerkier image, you can still join in with a slow dial-up internet service.


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