‘Alexa, who is God?’ Church of England launches voice-activated service
Believers can now request prayers or find a church through their personal assistant device
“Who is God?” will now join common queries like “What will the weather be like today?” on the list of questions which can be answered by Alexa, as the Church of England unveils a voice-activated service which lets the faithful worship with the help of their smart device.
The new Church of England Alexa “skill” lets owners of the Amazon Echo personal assistant ask the device “to read a prayer of the day, the Ten Commandments or the Lord's Prayer or to recite grace before a meal”, the BBC reports.
Users can also get the Church of England’s responses to questions such as “what is the Bible?” and “how can I become a Christian?”.
A video released by the Church to promote the new service shows Archbishop of York John Sentamu asking Alexa to read the Lord’s Prayer.
Sentamu said the service, which users can opt to add, would “enable regular churchgoers and those exploring faith to connect with God in another way at a time that’s right for them”.
However, the “skill” will also encourage interested listeners to continue their journey offline, with a “find a church” feature which identifies nearby C of E churches.
The Church’s head of digital, Adrian Harris, told The Guardian that smart devices represent a valuable opportunity “to connect people with God and to weave faith into daily lives”.
“We’re prioritising Alexa at this stage to reach as many people as quickly as possible but plan to launch on Google and Apple devices in due course,” he added.
The voice-activated resources are part of a wider drive to embrace digital technology to spread counter dwindling church attendance, particularly among younger Britons.
In March, the Church began accepting payments via contactless cards and apps like Apple Pay, saying this would make it easier for younger parishioners to access services like weddings, christenings and funerals.
Believers can also download a range of official apps, offering daily prayers, searchable scripture and help with Bible study.