Kolkata churches take to social media to gather their flock

St Andrew’s Church, founded in 1815, has 680 followers on FBSt Andrew’s Church, founded in 1815, has 680 followers on FB
KOLKATA: Faith and social media have come together in the city, helping churches — some of which are more than 200 years old — bond with their existing parishioners and connect to new ones.

The use of social media helps in both short- and long-term tasks, say church leaders, with many of them now logging into Facebook to disseminate information among members about up-coming events (like seminars on social issues or special events and even fund-raising) as well expand their online communities.

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Most of the big churches now have their own Facebook pages and church leaders say they have seen social media contributing to another huge positive, generating many more one-on-one (online) conversations between ordinary members of the community who, otherwise, would not have spoken to each other. Many now use Facebook to share pictures of church programmes and promote activities tailored to different sections.

“Social media is a useful resource, which we can use to connect, engage in conversations and spread the message of Christ. We use our Facebook page to share information about seminars and prayer services,” Reverend Swarup Bar of St Andrew’s Church said. This church has been sharing information and pictures of several programmes on its Facebook page.

The social media cell of Church of Christ the King keeps members of its Facebook page engaged and informed almost daily. “We use social media to share information about several schemes so that our members benefit,” Father Vincent Lobo told TOI.

A dental check-up organised by the church last month and shared on Facebook is a recent example. Pictures of celebrations around International Women’s Day were shared multiple times. The church is now celebrating its 75 years and feeding 75 needy people every day.

The iconic St Paul’s Cathedral, which is undergoing restoration work, has used its Facebook page to appeal to its members to contribute funds through account-payee cheques for the “massive repairs”.

Social media, say both church leaders and parishioners, are a big help when it comes to bridging the gap with absent parishioners, both young and old. Many young parishioners now work in other Indian cities or abroad and miss out on activities undertaken by their church. Elderly members often cannot attend church celebrations because they may be indisposed. So churches now upload pictures or go live on their pages, giving updates to these members.

Duff Church in Maniktala, for example, organised several Facebook lives and uploaded photos of prayer services and celebrations during Christmas last year for members who could not attend. “It is a way of including everybody in our joy and celebrations,” Reverend Biswajit Biswas said.

“We have taken to uploading pictures of church programmes,” Reverend Sourojit Biswas of Osmond Memorial Church on S N Banerjee Road said.

[“source=timesofindia.indiatimes.”]