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Church in Wales

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Vicars from Heather Shotton’s old church and new parish were on the virtual service

Many of us are finding virtual ways to socialise and speak to our colleagues during the coronavirus lockdown.

But in Wrexham a priest has become the first in Wales to be licensed remotely after a service over the internet.

Instead of a packed church, six vicars used Zoom to celebrate the Reverend Heather Shotton becoming a curate.

She said she was now looking at how to use the technology to provide virtual services to keep people connected during the lockdown.

“There was a feeling that everybody was with me, supporting me, although they weren’t present,” she said.

A former Royal Navy nurse, Ms Shotton was an assistant curate at St Giles church, and will move to a new parish which covers Ruabon, Chirk and Penycae.

“It was strange, normally we would have friends and family and church friends from all over the country,” she said.

“It’s a funny feeling because I don’t look for notoriety, but everybody seems to have made such a fuss of being the first, I suppose it is a milestone in the church’s history, but it’s not one I set out to make.”

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Church in Wales

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Heather Shotton will still have to sign a paper licence

While she is not a technophobe, Ms Shotton said she “did not get on” with technology, and was determined to get to grips with it to eventually stream or record services.

“I’d like people to still be able to stay in touch with what’s going on in church and have that feeling of community which is difficult at times like this, although everybody is pulling together,” she said.

Archdeacon of Wrexham, John Lomas, who led the Zoom service, said the bishop had asked them to conduct the licensing virtually to stop gaps in missions.

“Heather will need to sign the licence so I’ll be posting that to her in the coming days,” he said.

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