Church of England launches Amazon Echo app allowing users to hear prayers read by Alexa device
The Church of England has released a new Amazon Echo application that would allow users to ask questions about God and listen to prayers read by the Alexa device.
According to the Evening Standard, the new application is part of the Church's online campaign to boost attendance after statistics showed that fewer people are showing up at services across the U.K.
Figures released by the Church last year showed that 1.2 million people were reached online, but it also showed a 14 percent drop in attendance since 2006.
Dr. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, said that the new application was aimed at helping agnostics learn more about the Church.
Among the questions that users can ask the Alexa device are: "what is faith?" "what do Christians believe?" and "who is God?," according to The Telegraph. The device can also read the Lord's Prayer and say grace before meals.
Another feature of the application would allow users to find churches in or near a specific town. The Church is also considering a function that would allow users to mark key Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
The idea for the application was conceived after a "digital labs" event that focused on the use of technology in evangelism and in promoting the work of the Church.
The Church is also reportedly planning to release similar applications for Google and Apple devices in the future.
It further noted in a statement that the audio content will also be available on the Church's website as well as its social media channels in the next few months.
William Nye, the secretary general to the Church's general synod, stressed that the Church should make it a priority to convert digital followers to physical congregations.
"Our challenge is to join up that growing online Church life to the physical community of Church that forms the body of Christ," Nye said, according to The Telegraph.
"We're thrilled to be launching the Alexa skill today, to enable regular churchgoers and those exploring faith to connect with God in another way and a time that's right for them. A quarter of UK households now own a smart home device and, after transforming our national websites last year, this fast-growing area was identified as a priority for development."
The Church has been stepping up efforts in using technology in various religious activities. In March, it announced that more than 16,000 of its churches will start accepting contactless payment during wedding and christening services. It noted that the move was part of an effort to appeal to young people who often do not carry cash.