A Plymouth vicar, Father Simon Rundell, has designed and created a new app that allows churches to create Holy Week trails around their parishes.
The app – Biblical Stations – is available on Google Play.
It gives churches the technology to create a 15 point route with QR codes around their local area for families to follow and hear the Easter story. Each QR code represents one of the traditional Stations of the Cross. Families will use Google Maps to follow the trail around their parish and listen to the Easter story and holy scriptures.
Father Simon said, “There is a need to provide something digital in place of that which we are going to miss this Holy Week, therefore I think it right and proper that we use whatever technology is available to us to do that. The idea was to combine modern technology with a little bit of a hunt, enabling people to do their Covid-safe exercise at the same time.”
The aim of the app is to be an alternative to Easter activities that would normally be taking place in churches or in schools.
Father Simon said, “It’s fun to find the barcodes, but it’s serious to hear the Easter story. I think children are very capable of appreciating the significance of the story and if you can tie it in with a bit of fun and exercise at the same time then that is even better.”
The audio commentary at each point of the trail is courtesy of another of Father Simon’s projects. The Crowdsourced Psalms Project features the voices of people from around the world reading segments of the Bible.
The passages of scripture and messages heard at each of the 15 stations aim to be thought-provoking and engaging for all ages.
The inspiration for Fr Simon’s Easter trail app was the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, where pilgrims follow the route Jesus is believed to have walked on his way to the cross.
“It gives us the opportunity to encounter the biblical scriptures which speak of Christ’s passion and reflect on them and I think that’s something that has got resonance for all generations,” he said.
Father Simon, from the parishes of Bickleigh and Shaugh Prior, worked in app development before he was ordained 20 years ago. He has continued to use his technology skills in his spare time.
He now hopes his software will be adapted for other religious events throughout the year and reach people in the community who may not be familiar with the Bible.
“I wanted it to be an initial tool for people, not just spiritually but as an outreach. People might download this, do a walk and discover Jesus’ story for the first time.”
Churches can use the app to create their own Holy Week walks by choosing 15 locations in their area which could act as the stations and then send the coordinates from Google Maps to Father Simon.
Father Simon says he will embed these locations into the app and provide the QR codes to be printed-out and placed at the selected locations.
Families on the trail will use a smartphone to scan each of the codes when they reach that point in the trail, triggering the Bible reading to be played.
“If you wanted to set the stations 5miles apart then it could take all day, but in normal circumstances it would be a gentle walk around a parish. These stations could be a lamp post or a friendly shop window,” explained Father Simon.
“If we can use technology for Jesus then I think that is its greatest use and purpose.”
(Exeter Anglican, CTC Info Hub)