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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Parish Tunes In To God, Thanks Be To iPod!

The podcast is becoming the Godcast. In a phenomenon that has amazed the clergy, thousands of British worshippers are using their iPods to listen to sermons. While most people use the trendy portable music players to download their favourite pop tunes from the internet, many are adding a spiritual element to their play lists.

The Reverend Leonard Payne, a vicar in Suffolk, has been overwhelmed by the response after he posted some of his homilies on the Apple iTune store last month. "We were stunned," he said."Within a short period of time, over 2400 people had downloaded one of the sermons. The volume was so great we had to change servers and, in the last five days of July, over 230 copies of our talks have been delivered - an incredible reaction to the work of a small rural congregation."

Mr Payne said his church was the first in England to be able to place the sermons on iTunes, the online music store. The vicar of St Nicholas in Wrentham, Mr Payne is one of a number of Anglican and Catholic clergy who are harnessing technology to reach the young.

The vicar said he hoped that the technology would allow the church to remain in contact with those who were "believers rather than belongers".

At All Saints Church in Peckham, south London, members of the congregation will soon be able to download the vicar's sermon on to their MP3 players almost immediately after the service has ended. Fifty parishioners are already downloading the sermon each week. The Church of England is now looking at ways to use its website to offer podcasts.

Podcasts, which can be easily and cheaply recorded by amateurs, are becoming so popular in the United States that they are threatening the future of commercial radio.

There is a growing library of religious and inspirational "Godcasts" available on websites.


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