“Virtual Services, The Way Forward for Churches”

THE Covid crisis has shaken churches out of their comfort zone, and by forcing them to adopt new ways of practicing their faith could save many churches from a slow and terminal decline, according to a Welsh Christian leader in his New Year message.

As the Union of Welsh Independent Churches celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2022, the past two years have been the toughest in its history, said the Reverend Dyfrig Rees, general secretary of the union.

“For the first time in our history, chapels have been closed or restricted for long periods of time, with the connection between buildings and their congregations severed,” he said.

“But the way many ministers and congregations have risen to this challenge by using Zoom to hold virtual services and internet platforms to share the gospel has created new momentum and re-energized many churches.

“We were reminded that the church is a body of believers, not just a building.

“Instead of a congregation of a few dozen or less on a Sunday morning, a Welsh language service prepared by an individual church can attract over 500 viewers on YouTube.

“Such spiritual provision has proven extremely valuable during times of lockdown, but remained popular even after restrictions were relaxed.

“The Union invites hundreds of member churches to apply through its Innovation and Investment Fund for substantial grants to invest in innovative projects, which may include building a strong internet presence , alongside projects for congregations to take a new approach to how chapels could be used more by the community, while remaining places of worship.

“There is no doubt that 2022 will be a crucial year for our churches.

“For some, the disruption of the pandemic may be the final straw that can lead to shutdown, but for others it will be the start of a new era in which they embrace new and exciting ways of practicing Christian faith within the congregation and in the community.”

Perry A. Thomasson