MORE than 1,500 people watched the Bishop of Winchester’s first online service on Sunday.

The livestream meant people were able to take part in worship despite church buildings across the country closing due to coronavirus.

Bishop Right Reverend Tim Dakin broadcast from his home for Christians across Hampshire and East Dorset.

In his sermon, he offered a message of hope and asked them to pray for all those who are lonely, unwell, or separated from loved ones at this time.

Bishop Dakin said: “I was very encouraged by the response to my first online service, and it is heartening that so many people were able to be part of this virtual congregation on Sunday.

"Throughout the Diocese, parishes have quickly adapted to new ways of reaching our communities. I know that as we approach Easter, Christians will continue to express their faith in new ways with growing confidence."

Across the Diocese, many other members of the clergy were also using new means to connect with their congregations.

In vicarages throughout Hampshire, kitchens and front rooms were transformed into recording studios on Sunday as priests live-streamed services directly from their homes.

The Revd Karen Kousseff, Area Dean of the Winchester deanery, was one of many who used video-conferencing to lead her usual service.

She said: "We had 70 people take part in our service on Sunday morning on Zoom, including nine listening via their landline phones.

"People found it really moving and comforting to see all the familiar names and it made them feel connected again. We all gained some comfort and reassurance on Sunday, not to mention confidence to do more!"

Bishop Tim’s service will be broadcast each Sunday on the Diocese of Winchester’s YouTube Channel:

The services, along with other resources to help people remain connected despite social distancing measures, will be available on the Diocese of Winchester’s website.