Edward Lancaster, 17, awarded the Cross of St Piran
Edward Lancaster was awarded the Cross of St Piran for drawing his local church community together by designing and launching a new church website, streaming live services and creating content for weekly services. All of which he has done aged only 17.
Many young people have had a raw deal during the lockdowns. Their lives have been interrupted, stalled, and for some changed course because of pandemic. Rites of passage had to be abandoned, from taking exams and school-leavers proms to testing wings with friends and peers. Edward Lancaster’s experience has been no different. But Edward filled some of the void by focussing on his church community in Launceston.
Using a passion for computers to get the church community connected
With GCSEs cancelled and study leave redundant, Edward used the extra time and his passion for computers, to get the community connected. With the support of his parents and backing of the worship team, Edward created a new church website. “It’s something I love doing, so it didn’t feel like hard work,” said Edward.
A few weeks into the first lockdown, when watching an online service from the Church of England, Edward’s mum, who’s training to be a vicar, thought that might be something their church could perhaps do with Edward’s help.
So, the community was galvanised into action. Tasks were divvied up and lots of people contributed by recording segments, or sending voice recordings of readings, all of which were sent to Edward. Edward used his skills to edit the content and put together services that everyone could participate in from their homes.
Thanks to Edward Lancaster, 17, more people have been encouraged to come along to church, despite the doors being closed
Recording and streaming services are something that the team at Launceston have realised is a blessing to those folk who find it hard to get to church. It’s also encouraged more people to ‘come along’ than did so when the church was physically open. In all likelihood, they will continue after the lockdowns are finally lifted.
“I think it’s made it easier for people to come to church,” says Edward. “We have a large heavy door into our church and that can be a barrier – pushing it open can be a big deal, especially if you want to slip in unnoticed. By watching the services online, people can get a feel for what goes on and realise church isn’t a scary place.”
“By watching the services online, people can get a feel for what goes on and realise church isn’t a scary place,” says Edward Lancaster.
Why would a teenager bother about church?
So why does a young man like Edward bother with church? It’s no secret that he’s in the minority at most of the Church of England churches across Cornwall. “I like the sense of community, and I love playing the organ.” Playing the organ is another of Edward’s gifts. The church now pays for his lessons and he plays not only at Launceston, but a lot of the smaller churches around.
“I also think living a Christian life is a good way to live – sharing love and peace are good things to live by,” says Edward. And no one can argue with that.
Edward Lancaster has been a tremendous blessing to his church community. As the vicar of Launceston Parish Churches, Revd Peter Knight, said of him, “Edward has really enabled, almost overnight, what would normally take us a decade of development/evolution. Without his input, our response in providing services during the pandemic would have been very much reduced.”
St Piran himself would commend Edward for his pioneering spirit and can-do attitude.
“Edward has really enabled, almost overnight, what would normally take us a decade of development/evolution. Without his input, our response in providing services during the pandemic would have been very much reduced.”