UK

Pokemon Go: Churches encouraged to welcome visiting players

  • 19 July 2016
  • From the section UK
A man playing Pokemon Go on his smartphone Image copyright Reuters

Anglican churches have been urged to welcome players of Pokemon Go who use their premises as Pokestops.

The online game - which is attracting millions of new players - involves finding virtual Pokemon characters in various real locations.

Several churches have been designated as Pokestops, which players visit to collect items during the game.

The CofE has said the game gives church communities a chance to meet more local people.

It has issued guidance to churches around the country, encouraging them to welcome players who visit them as part of the game.

Pokemon Go launched in the UK on Thursday, and has proved popular with people around the world.

Church locations which have been registered on the game as Pokestops include St Stephen's in Rednal, Birmingham, Hope Church in Islington, north London, and St Mary's Episcopal cathedral in Glasgow.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pokemon Go can be played in many locations - even Downing Street

The Church of England's digital media officer, Tallie Proud, issued guidance to churches on Thursday.

In it, she said: "Pokemon Go is therefore giving churches around the country a great opportunity to meet people from their area who might not normally come to church.

"You might also spot people standing outside the church on their phones who may be playing the game and at your 'PokeStop'."

Church communities have been encouraged to place welcome signs outside and hold so-called "Pokeparties" for players - one is planned for Christ Church in Stone, Staffordshire, on Friday evening.

One Pokemon player, Matthew Newbold, 22, from Peterborough, tweeted: "Pokemon go makes me such a better person. Had a charity coffee on my hunt for Pokemon at the church."

Image caption City Road Methodist Church in Birmingham has become a virtual gym for Pokemon Go players

However, the Church also warned of the potential danger to young people playing the game.

"Whilst we would encourage churches to engage with those playing the game, be they adults or children, we also understand the concerns that the NSPCC have raised with regards to keeping children safe.

"Our first priority as a Church should be to provide a safe place for children and vulnerable adults with regards to Pokemon Go," said its guidance.

Not only Anglican churches are involved. Earlier this week, City Road Methodist Church in Birmingham signed up to become one of the real-life locations used as "gyms" in Pokemon Go, where users can train virtual monsters.

It has put up a sign saying: "Jesus Cares About Pokemon Gamers".

Correction 18 July 2016: This story has been amended to clarify that Church of England churches did not "sign up" as Pokestops but were encouraged to welcome Pokemon Go players who visited them.

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