Church welcomes 'virtual minister'
Published 27/09/2010 | 01:34
A church has played host to Scotland's first "virtual minister".
The Reverend Kenneth Stewart led worship at Paisley Free Church from another church seven miles away.
He appeared via a hi-tech video link from Dowanvale Free Church in Glasgow to preach to both congregations simultaneously.
Paisley Free Church has a congregation but no permanent minister, so Mr Stewart was beamed in to lead the service.
He said the technology - a remote controlled camera, screen measuring 8ft by 8ft and a high-speed internet connection - was "astonishing".
"The congregation tells me it feels as if I am in the same room as they are," he said.
The "virtual minister" technology was created by specialist video firm WS Steele Ltd in Glasgow.
The company's managing director, Stuart McArthur, said: "Paisley Free Church has a congregation but currently no minister, so it was decided to link Dowanvale Free Church in Glasgow's West End with Paisley.
"Using a high-end remote-controlled camera, the AV signal is relayed by laptop and broadband from Glasgow to Paisley's Silk Street, where the congregation can participate in the worship from Dowanvale.
"We're confident that the virtual minister format will work well and prove cost-effective, and we plan to offer it to other churches facing a similar problem."