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Anglicans plan first cyberchurch

 The Anglican Diocese of Oxford has advertised for a "web-pastor" in this week's Church Times. Once appointed, the pastor will be expected to build an on-line community which will join together for prayer sessions, daily worship and religious study. The idea is the brainchild of the diocese's director of communication, Rev Richard Thomas. He said government research had shown that while 51% of the population said they were C of E, only 8% went to church. At the same time a growing number of people are getting to know each other through the internet. A church in cyberspace would provide them with an opportunity to discover their faith. The Church of England would be failing people if it did not provide an on-line spiritual home, he explained. The cyber-church would welcome members who wished to join, and visitors that were just passing by - much in the same way people are welcomed in physical churches, he said. Rev Thomas said he believed members of the virtual congregation would soon want to meet up in person. Applicants to the post of web pastor must be committed Christians but the post is also open to those who have not been ordained. "We are looking for someone to work in a new, untested environment and we are very conscious that there are lay people out there who could do this very well," Mr Thomas said. Details of the web-pastor position are available via the basic web site which is already up and running at: www.i-church.org.