Durham Cathedral was among the first cathedrals to live stream its daily services on Facebook as the UK went into lockdown in early 2020, and six months later it launched a prayer community to support and foster the growing community of loyal devotees online.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, tight-knit communities of worshipers became accustomed to coming together virtually on live service streams, and remarkably the community continued to thrive as congregations returned to churches, with around 500 people still regularly connecting to the cathedral live. streaming services.
Canon Charlie Allen, a member of the clergy who established the Prayer Community, says of his training, “As the names of those commenting on the live broadcast services became familiar and people got to know each other online, together we saw an opportunity to build a community with the prayer rhythm of Durham Cathedral as our heart,” whatever the geographical distance. “
Earlier this week, an online service to mark the first year of the Durham Cathedral Prayer Community took place to celebrate the success of this unique project that brings together Christians from around the world.
The community, currently 370 members strong, exists to nurture people on their faith journey through online worship and virtual gatherings, and is designed to complement experiences with members’ local faith communities. Many members, who come from around the world from Australia, Finland, Canada and the Philippines as well as places closer to home in County Durham, have expressed a strong sense of “belonging” to the cathedral. of Durham which has endured for the past year.
Canon Allen, who delivered remarks at Monday’s anniversary mass, continues, “The community has grown steadily over the past year, with new members joining every day. Durham Cathedral’s online and physically assembled communities are also valuable. There is a cross between the groups that allows people to maintain their ways of worship as their circumstances change, including those who would normally join us in person but are now housebound, and students who share their time. between home and university.
Anne Robertson of Gateshead leads a life of ministry and has been a member of the Prayer Community since its inception. She says, “The members of the Prayer Community have been very supportive over the past year, not only in my ministry journey, but also this summer when my mother was diagnosed with phase cancer. terminal and died a few weeks later.
Members of the community are encouraged to support each other on the journey of faith and to commit to keeping up with the daily rhythm of online cathedral worship. The Community also offers frequent online quiet days that encourage participants to reflect on a given topic, as well as virtual gatherings and online spaces to connect with members.
Durham Cathedral looks forward to a bright future for the Prayer Community and its live broadcast of services. Many cathedrals cut back on their live broadcasts when in-person worship was able to return, while Durham Cathedral saw the value it brought to digital audiences. Members expressed how much they appreciated the friendly encouragement of their fellow pilgrims on the path of faith. Despite the suffering and hardships endured by so many during the pandemic, the story of the Community of Prayer is part of the joy and hope of its members.