Sunday, July 25, 2010

Church minister to tweet Holy Communion to the faithful

A church minister is to conduct the first communion service on Twitter, the social networking site.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent

Twitter ye not; The original Twitter question: What are you 
doing?; Alamy
Hundreds of people have already registered to follow the service Photo: Alamy
In a modern spin on Christianity's most sacred rite, worshippers are being invited to break bread and drink wine or juice in front of their computers as they follow the service online.
Churches usually require a priest to take the Eucharist, but the Rev Tim Ross, a Methodist minister, will send out a prayer in a series of Tweets – messages of up to 140 characters – to users of Twitter.

Those following the service are asked to read each tweet out loud before typing Amen as a reply at the end.

The move is likely to upset traditionalists, but the Rev Mr Ross argues that it is an important step in uniting Christians around the world and reaching those who might not normally go to church.

Hundreds of people have already registered to follow the service and Mr Ross hopes that thousands will have signed up by the time he sends out the groundbreaking tweets next month.

"Twitter offers unique possibilities for communication for the Church," he said.

"It's a community that's as real and tangible as any local neighbourhood and we should be looking to minister to it.

"The perception of church is often that it is rusting away in antiquated buildings and not in touch with the world around us, but this is a statement that we're prepared to embrace the technological revolution."

He added: "Those who are from a high [traditional] church background might be concerned about whether this is a valued form of communion, but this is for a global community."

Last year, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, warned that social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace could encourage teenagers to view friendship as a "commodity" and claimed the internet was "dehumanising" community life.

However, the Church of England has tried to appeal to the internet generation by setting up an online church which offers prayers and worship.

Following its launch in 2006, a number of other internet churches have been set up, creating opportunities for people to talk online.

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