History, traditions
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russian Orthodox Church to use karaoke and video screens for divine services

There are about 600-700 Russian Orthodox websites on the Internet now

A temple of the Russian Orthodox Church in the city of Petrozavodsk conducts divine services with the use of computer technologies. One can watch priests on monitors and read prayers in the Russian language. The local eparchy intends to use the know-how for missionary purposes. The clergy plans to attract young people to the church, as well as those people, who find it difficult to attend divine services – prisoners and disabled people.

It was a young priest of the Temple of John the Divine, who put forward the idea to use computer technologies in the church. The idea occurred to him, when he saw several deaf people among the church-goers. The priests of the temple organized the hand-language translation for them during services at first. However, gesture-translators distracted other people's attention in a small church.

Father Konstantin brought a computer to the church and asked “progressive” parishioners to make a special program. After that, deaf people were standing in front of the computer screen during a service, while a non-deaf attendant was using a mouse to click “next” on prayer slides.

It turned out all of a sudden, that deaf people had much more opportunities in comparison with normal parishioners. The texts of the prayers were written in the Russian language, not in the obscure Church Slavonic language. The amount of information on the slides was a lot larger in comparison with what other individuals could hear in the temple.

Father Konstantin is going to hang a big screen in the church so that all parishioners could see it. Computer specialists are currently working on a new program, which will help people read exactly the words that a priest says or a chorus sings during a service. The process will bear some resemblance to karaoke. The screen will be also displaying all actions of a priest.

The Temple of John the Divine is to have its website on the Internet too. Any user will be able to see the services online. The webpage of the church will also hold video-conferences devoted to Orthodox subjects. This service can become rather popular among prisoners and disabled people, who do not have an opportunity to go to the church.

Father Konstantin believes that there is only one field of the Orthodox life, where computer technologies will never be accepted. The Church will never start making computer games based on Gospel stories.

The faithful do not have any aversion to such technical means. “Of course, we use modern means of communication, computers and the Internet. Any technology can be used both for the benefit and to the detriment of the church. Everybody knows about online pornography, or those websites, which stir up religious or ethnic strife. The use of technologies must be linked to the cultural field too. It is very annoying, for example, when cellular phones start ringing during a divine service,” Father Vladislav Chaplin from the Moscow Patriarchy said.

There are about 600-700 Russian Orthodox websites on the Internet now. They have been created for missionary and educational purposes: priests answer people's questions and publish their sermons there. Such activity is quite acceptable and desirable. Deacon Andrei Kurayev preaches on the Internet rather actively. The forum on his webpage is one of the most popular religious pages on the Russian Internet.

Natalia Konigina

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