Ripon Cathedral is investing £63,000 in new online streaming equipment thanks to grants received from Allchurches Trust and the Church Commissioners.
Online streamed services began during the first lockdown and very soon the cathedral was able to offer a daily streamed evening prayer, a weekly reflection and a Sunday Eucharist. The services have gone from strength to strength with the audience growing to more than 600 subscribers, some from as far away as California and New Zealand. Larger services, for example for VE Day, have received more than 2,000 views.
In addition the cathedral has live streamed weddings and funerals to people who could not attend because of the strict cap on numbers; these have been seen thousands of times. The quality of the sound and images streamed has been very high, receiving compliments from the region’s media. Delivering this high quality output however, has only been possible because nearly all the equipment has been borrowed.
Now a grant of £10,000 received from Allchurches Trust will pay for new cameras and microphones that will improve the quality of services for the growing online community.
The Very Revd John Dobson, Dean of Ripon, said: “I cannot thank Allchurches Trust enough for the support they are giving us in this essential area of ministry. Twelve months ago, this sort of development was on our agenda for the medium-term future. The experience of this year has changed that completely; it is now an urgent matter and an area of our work that is simply indispensable.
“It is particularly valuable at this time as we have big plans for Christmas which this grant will help us deliver, including live streamed carol concerts for people to sing along to at home, organ recitals and other services”.
Allchurches Trust is one of the UK’s largest grant-making charities and gave £17.8 million to churches, charities and communities in 2019. Its funds come from its ownership of Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.
Andrew Bass, Grants Officer at Allchurches Trust, said: “Through our Hope Beyond programme, we’ve been able to help cathedrals and churches of all sizes all over the UK and Ireland to improve their digital capacity and resilience. We’re delighted that our funding will enable Ripon Cathedral to build on the huge progress already made during the COVID-19 lockdown to reach more people with their services and support, including vulnerable people who may always have struggled to access physical church services, and bring joy and hope to all.”
In addition to the Allchurches grant, the cathedral has been awarded additional grants of £53,000 which will finance a new website, IT equipment for better quality streaming and recording of services, cabling and staff support costs.
Looking further ahead into the new year, the cathedral would like to develop a more extensive range of online services for the congregation and the wider rural community, particularly as the need to socially distance looks set to continue; the new equipment will help to achieve this goal.
The Dean concluded: “What has been achieved since March has been remarkable, its high quality has been remarked upon. Unfortunately, however, this would be unsustainable without the purchasing of essential equipment. These wonderful grants now enable us to make this investment and, if anything, take the quality of our output onto an even higher level”.