One of Scotland's oldest and most mysterious churches jumped into the 21st century yesterday, by launching an online prayer service. Rosslyn Chapel, based just outside Edinburgh, has become the country's first church to take e-prayer requests over the internet. Scores of people from as far afield as the USA have already logged on to leave messages on the virtual prayer board during its trial run. The Scottish Episcopal chapel has promised to keep specific requests confidential. But areas covered so far have ranged from exam results to relationships, from job interviews to crises of faith. The service is available through the Scottish Episcopal Church's main website at: www.scottishepiscopal.com. People type their message into an online form and send it straight to Rosslyn's prayer team with the click of a button. The anonymous request comes through as an email, without any mention of the sender's identity or address. At noon every weekday, the prayer requests are printed off and offered to God in the chapel by a member of the congregation. The online service is a virtual extension of a physical prayer book kept at the back of the historic church. Hundreds of people visit Rosslyn Chapel every week and write their prayer requests into the book. "These e-prayers are allowing us to build a long-distance worshipping community," said the Rev Michael Fass, priest in charge of Rosslyn Chapel. "They are connecting people to the church that wouldn't be connected in any other way," he added. "We live increasingly disconnected lives. If this is a way that we can connect people to a church, then that must be a good idea. "Whether people are in the church or thousands of miles away down the other end of a phone line, our ministry is to offer up their prayers to God." Prayer has always been central to Rosslyn Chapel since it was founded in around 1446 as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew. Its founder, Sir William St Clair, set up a team of priests to pray for himself, his family and his comrades in arms. Rosslyn Chapel has also often been associated with mystery. In recent years, Scottish crime novelist Ian Rankin used the chapel's Prentice Pillar as a hiding place for a clue in his book The Falls. The chapel has become the focus of countless myths, legends, and conspiracy theories, involving everyone from the Knights Templar to the Freemasons. But the virtual prayer board is a reflection of the mainstream Christian worship that has always been at the heart of the chapel since its foundation. source: The Scottish Episcopal Church
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