Cathedral dean embraces opportunity to extend online

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Time for innovation . . . Dean of St Paul's Cathedral The Very Reverend Dr Tony Curtis. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

From leading online services from a spare-room chapel, to building a virtual St Paul’s Cathedral in the online world of Minecraft, Dunedin’s Anglican cathedral community has embraced new ways of sharing worship.

Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral The Very Reverend Dr Tony Curtis said the need to respond to Alert Levels 4 and 3 lockdown and restrictions had made church leaders think hard about how they could include a broad range of people.

“Our director of music Michael Grant has been putting together virtual choirs, and our Sunday school children built a virtual St Paul’s in Minecraft,” Dr Curtis said.

“It has been great to see the ingenuity in our community.”

And the response had been good, with up to 400 families tuning in, with a high of 615 families joining a worship broadcast on YouTube on Easter Sunday.

Under Alert Level 2 restrictions, Dr Curtis had returned to his cathedral office, and a small number of people were able to come into the building, but services would remain online for the time being.

“As much as we would love to be back in the building, we have to keep our people safe,” he said.

In the meantime, parishioners were maintaining contact with each other and looking after their neighbours and wider networks.

Once services were able to resume, St Paul’s would continue to livestream services online, which would be a “lovely addition” to its outreach, Dr Curtis said.

“It will be great to be able to spread God’s love and hope as widely as possible.”