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WATCH: Lakeland church goes digital

A Cumbrian church is embracing the new media age by allowing people to post their prayers digitally and have them projected onto a wall in the church.

St Michael's and All Angels in Hawkshead has installed specialist equipment that will also allow the congregation and visitors to share their prayers with members of a church in Hackney in London. Kim Inglis went to have a look.


Praying in the digital age

Digital prayer Credit: ITV Border

A Lake District church is partnering up with a London congregation as part of a pioneering digital prayer project.

Specialist equipment has just been installed at St Michael's and All Angels in Hawkshead allowing people to type in prayers that are then projected onto the church's interior wall.

In coming weeks a link will also be created to allow the prayers to be shared with members of the Church of St Peter de Beauvoir in Hackney in London.

"It struck me immediately as a very exciting idea. I had never heard of anything like it before, yet it was simple and intriguing.

"I think that people are looking to see what kind of relationship develops between Hawkshead and a very different community in Hackney.

"We're also interested to see if people like to pray in this way. People have come to this church to pray for centuries but never before has it been connected digitally with another church. It will be interesting to see how people respond to that; that the things they pray for here are also being prayed for in Hackney."

– The Rev John Dixon, vicar of Hawkshead with Low Wray and Sawrey
St Michael's and All Angels in Hawkshead Credit: ITV Border

Two months ago John was approached by a team from Project CEDE (Creating and Exploring Digital Empathy), which includes input from the University of Lancaster, Sheffield University and the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis from University College London.

Among the key aims of CEDE are the exploration of ways to make digital communication more empathetic and the reduction of isolation across communities, groups and individuals.

The digital installation includes four votive candles which light up when a prayer is registered on a touch screen device near the church's entrance.

Within a few minutes the prayer is projected onto the wall of the church and is framed within special artwork which has been designed to mirror existing pictures in St Michael's. The prayers continue to cycle through as new ones are added.

The four candle prayer system has been in place for two weeks and so far John says there has been real interest shown.

He added: "It's wonderful to see how everybody - and especially younger people - have come into the church and really engaged in the prayer process through this project.

"We live in a media age and anybody coming to this church under a certain age is very familiar with new media. People communicate all the time in this way and there's no reason why the church should be any different."

Bishop of Carlisle's message

The Bishop of Carlisle has been reflecting on the past year in the Church of England.

In a festive video, the Right Reverend James Newcome looks back on some of the year's important moments, including the decision to allow women to become bishops.

Bishop of Carlisle 'delighted' by women bishop vote

The Bishop of Carlisle has welcomed the news that women can now become bishops within the Church of England.

The General Synod voted in favour of the move yesterday after almost five hours of debate.

“Much prayer and careful consideration has gone into this process. We recognise that at times this has been a painful process for those in favour and those against the creation of women bishops.

“Our priority is growing disciples in Christ and we hope that this decision will help the mission of the church.

“Finally, I would reiterate my personal delight that our excellent women clergy now have parity with their male colleagues and that as we move forward, following this vote, we will continue to be guided by God in all we do.”

– Rt Rev James Newcome, The Bishop of Carlisle

Thirty-seven bishops voted in favour with two against and one abstention, while 162 clergy approved with 25 against and four abstentions.

In the House of Laity, there were 152 votes in favour, 45 against and five abstentions.

Bishop of Carlisle to lead investigation into welfare reforms

The Bishop of Carlisle is to lead Cumbrian commission on welfare reform. The Rt Rev'd James Newcome will chair a county Commission which will review the impact of current and proposed Welfare Reforms.

This is a vitally important body of work and one which I'm sure will demonstrate directly the frontline impact of welfare reforms. It's our Christian duty to ensure all in society are cared for and protected and that any reforms do not unfairly penalise people.

– Bishop James

The Commission has been established at the request of the Cumbria Leaders Board which is made up of key public and third sector leaders in the county. Evidence from charities, community organizations and individuals will be collected over the coming months.


Church buildings will feel the impact of the VAT changes

St Brigets Chirch near Cockermouth Credit: ITV Border

The Archdeacon of West Cumberland Richard Pratt has spoken out against the changes to the VAT exemptions for listed buildings. The extension at St Bridgets in Bridekire near Cockermouth would have cost £50,000 more under the budget changes.He said:

Archdeacon Richard Pratt Credit: ITV Border

"Previously it was only repair work, such as to the roof, which was subject to VAT now any alteration and restoration work will also have to pay it.

We understand the government is between a rock and a hard place on this issue because of the economic climate but we fund everything ourselves through volunteers so I hope they will reconsider."

He added: "The extension here at Bridekirk probably wouldn't be here if it had to pay the tax. It cost £250,000 to build. VAT would push that figure to £300,000 so the congregation would probably still be raising the money."

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