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Prayers on iPad for Father David Matthews

By Kevin Leonard
BBC Wales News website

image caption'Father Gadget' uses the iPad to help with services and even to play music

A parish priest is turning heads by using the latest technology to help communicate with his flock.

Father David Matthews, who jokingly calls himself "Father Gadget", uses an iPad for readings, prayers and music.

The Church in Wales priest said the device also helped him to personalise services, particularly weddings, baptisms and funerals.

His tech-savvy approach impressed guests at a recent wedding at St Mary's in Marshfield, near Newport.

Father Matthews, 50, parish priest for Marshfield and St Brides Wentlooge, said: "For about 10 years I've been interested in technology. I jokingly refer to myself as Father Gadget!

"Those [parishioners] that are aware of it think it's great. Most of them would be unaware of it though."

He said he prepared for a mid-week service by putting various readings and prayers into his iPad.

"I tend not to use it at the altar, I use the prayer books, but I tend to use it more at the lectern," he added.

He said he had downloaded several applications, or apps, that were useful such as daily prayers and translations of texts from scriptures.

He said it was useful for customising services such as weddings where people wanted particular readings or prayers.

"It has saved me having to use lots of different books because you can change the text," he said.

"It's easier to read because the text size is variable. I just find it convenient."

Admiring glances

He also uses it to for playing "meditative" music in the church and to accompany hymns if the organist is unavailable.

He drew a few admiring glances when he used his device at a wedding for the first time on Saturday.

image captionThe Bishop of St Asaph keeps in touch with his flock using social media

Wedding photographer Dave Packer said he was impressed by how the priest had embraced new technology.

"I love gadgets myself and I'm usually pretty cutting edge but I didn't expect to be outdone by the priest!" he said.

The Church in Wales has been urging clergy to use social media to help spread its message.

A guide has been published to advise them how to get the best from blogging and websites like Twitter.

The Church in Wales' guidance explains the advantages, and the possible pitfalls, for clergy trying reach their local community online.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, uses Facebook and Twitter to share diocesan news, and also tweets for prayers.

While a parish website is almost ready for a trial run, Father Matthews has not yet embraced social media.

"I don't tweet - I don't do anything fascinating enough to tell the world" he joked.

More on this story

  • Facebook and Twitter spread the Church in Wales word