'Watch parties' mark tentative return to worship following lockdown roadmap

Report by ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson

Following the lockdown roadmap announced last month, some places of worship are beginning tentatively to welcome back congregations.

One church in Brighton has begun by holding three 'watch parties'.

The sermon is still on the screen, but a few of the congregation are at least in the building.

Numbers are limited, members wear masks and are socially distanced, but they are praying and worshipping together.

Its been a whole calendar year since lockdown hit, since we did our last service as we knew it. We've just worked incredibly hard at doing things we've never done before like zoom groups, trying to meet one to one when we can but I think humans are just built to relate to one another, not be isolated or shut in a house, so I think its imperative that we learn again how to re-engage wth each other.

David Brading, Emmanuel Church

Although allowed to open during the most recent lockdown, most places of worship have remained closed until now.

Watch parties are a hesitant step forward as virus numbers come down.

This church has seen its numbers soar during the pandemic, its online service now part of its 'new normal'.

The physical service itself still not quite normal, but the doors are open.