Church of England launches Alexa skill for Amazon Echo users

The Church of England on Wednesday launched an Alexa skill for the Amazon Echo to help digital users find answers to their questions about God, faith and prayer, as well as conveniently know the schedule of church services in their area.

(Reuters/Gareth Fuller/Pool)Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks to the congregation during a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral, in Canterbury, southern England March 21, 2013.

The launch comes as figures revealed that church attendance during Sunday services has dwindled to 14 percent since 2006. With the digital app, however, the Church of England hopes to encourage more worshippers to renew their relationship with God and for agnostics to find faith.

The new Alexa app can complete more than 30 requests on the Amazon Echo smart speaker. This includes answering the question "Who is God?" or reading the Ten Commandments, or helping users recite his or her daily devotionals and prayers. Users can also download the app to work alongside A Church Near You.

The Church of England's head of digital Adrian Harris said that its app is the "first significant faith-based resources" for Alexa. The digital assistant apparently knows at least 500 religion skills from its 40,000 total skills but the app from the Church of England solely caters to a large number of worshippers.

Harris further clarified how this particular Alexa skill works, saying: "It is broadly split into three areas: firstly, it shares prayers when people need them; secondly, it shares all the good news about the Christian faith through the Pilgrim resources; thirdly, it finds churches near you with live data from A Church Near You."

Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, stated that the Alexa skill was a "priority development" for the Church of England. They saw how the church could integrate technology in its ministry, as households in the U.K. have become more and more attuned to using digital devices and smart speakers.

"We as the Church need to be in the digital space, doing our best to translate the Christian faith in a way that is accessible and meaningful," Sentamu told Church Times.

In March, the Church of England also started using cashless donation facilities on its 16,000 sites.