Church of England offers prayers read by Amazon's Alexa

Woman sitting in church and Amazon's AlexaImage source, Getty Images/Amazon
Image caption,
From the pew to the... speaker?

The Church of England is offering worshippers the chance to use voice-activated virtual assistants to pray.

But the smart speakers will also have a "church near you" function to encourage people to visit their local church.

The move is part of an online campaign by the Church after figures showed fewer people were attending services.

The Church of England also hopes to offer the service through Google Play in the future.

Church figures for last year showed the Church was reaching 1.2 million people online every month but that those attending Sunday services had dropped by 14% since 2006.

What can a worshipper ask Alexa?

The Church of England's new voice-activation feature allows a worshipper to ask their Amazon Alexa to perform more than 30 actions or questions, including:

  • Read today's prayer
  • Find churches in or near a specified town
  • Who is God?
  • What it means to believe in God
  • Read the 10 Commandments

The Church of England said it wanted to use all of the technologies available to grow people's faith and had noticed the popularity of the speakers.

There are also plans to mark key events in the Christian calendar including Christmas and Easter using the technology.

In March the Church announced it was to begin taking contactless payments for services such as weddings and christenings at more than over 16,000 churches - a move it said should appeal to young people who often did not carry cash.

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