LOCAL churches have joined forces to bring their regular services to people following the closure of church buildings due to coronavirus.

St Matthew and St Luke’s Parish Church, Darlington, are working with St. Michael’s in Heighington to offer a new telephone and online service, which are open to anyone who is in need of some faith in this time.

The churches first launched the online service using Facebook, which would usually see hundreds of people tuning in.

As successful as the new services were, Reverend Lissa Scott, the priest in charge of St Matthew and St Luke’s Parish Church, said that many regular church goers still missed out on the occasion, as they weren’t comfortable with using the internet and therefore the telephone service was born to make sure the church was available to all those who required it.

St. Matthew and St. Luke’s Churchwarden, Gordon Tough, said that “People are able to call in on a local number, to listen to a pre-recorded service of either morning or evening prayer lead by a member of the church leadership team.

“The telephone line has done much better than we expected.

“We estimated we might get 10-15 people using it, but we actually have around 25 people attending our Sunday services and 10-15 for our evening prayer.

“Our Facebook services are reaching about 170 people which is incredible for a church usually speaking to 20 people per service. Some people tune into the whole service, others just for a few minutes, but it doesn’t matter as long as that individual gets something which they need from it during those moments.”

“I think people during this time have looked to faith more, whether it’s because they want to try something new, or because the virus has brought with it a very scary time where people are doing a lot of questioning around spirituality and what happens after death. There has defiantly been a increase in interest amongst people.

“The response has been amazing, and as a church we’ve decided we need to learn from this and try to keep this momentum going once we go back to normal.”

The churches, who were concerned at a seeming lack of services for children during lockdown, have also started a Facebook Family Service which is live on St. Matthew and St Luke’s Facebook page on Saturdays at 3pm.

People can dial into the service on 01325 527446 on Sundays at 9:30am for Morning Prayer, and 7pm on Wednesdays for Evening Prayer.