Stoke-on-Trent churches live-streaming services for congregations during Covid-19 pandemic


Stoke-on-Trent churches are live-streaming their services to their parishes to bring comfort to people stuck at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Places of worship are some of the many venues, including pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops, forced to close to the public as part of the fight against the spread of Covid19.

And with one of the biggest events of the Christian calendar around the corner, ministers were keen to set up a way for people to watch services remotely in the run up to Easter.

Now, through the power of social media, church leaders at Swan Bank, Potters Church and Oasis Community Church have come up with a way to bring their services to people’s homes.

Kathryn Stephens is the superintendent minister for the Stoke-on-Trent Mission circuit. She oversees ten methodist churches, including Burslem’s Swan Bank.

She said: “Swan Bank are used to streaming Sunday services and wanted to put something together that can be used for wider than just us.

“We are doing it as a circuit venture, and the idea is we will use various church Facebook pages and a YouTube channel to stream the sessions.

“People can’t get to church or gather to pray, but this is the next best thing.”

Kathryn has urged her parish to stick to government advice, and instead, tune into the live stream for comfort and company.

She said: “It’s really important we stick to the guidance, so are finding creative ways to get together. 

“People who aren’t part of the Christian community can get involved and tune in, too.

“I think lots of people are struggling with isolation and this can help them feel part of something. We are a very open and inclusive group and people can join us from their own homes.”

PH Production Services – based in Newcastle-under-Lyme – have been offering their studio and equipment to local churches to allow others to continue practicing their faith.

They have also loaned equipment and support to other churches, who are able to stream on their own.

The first stream received over 2,000 views across the church Facebook pages, and PH Productions are creating DVDs of the services for those not on the internet.

Peter Herbert, aged 55, who owns the company, said: “We are planning to deliver services up to and including Easter, and then will review the situation again, but are hoping to carry on for longer.

“The services for Swan Bank, Oasis and Potters are being filmed at King Street Studios by my team, and other churches are being supported with equipment and technical advice.

“We are delighted and well-placed to give this support to our local churches. And our studios are large enough to comply with all government guidelines regarding social distancing and safe working practices during this difficult time.”

Swan Bank’s under 30s pastor Sam Taylor, aged 27, from Norton added: “At a time when people feel really isolated, creating a sense of community is really important.

“It’s amazing that even though we are watching from our living rooms, there is still a feeling of connection, as we can all worship from different places.”

Bethan Shufflebotham – Sentinel reporter