Church of Scotland considering online baptisms to boost membership

The Church of Scotland, known as The Kirk, is considering the possibility of introducing online Christian sacraments including Baptism and Communion in a bid to boost its membership.

(Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly)Christian pilgrims from Brazil are baptized in the water of the Jordan River during a ceremony at the Yardenit baptismal site near the northern Israeli city of Tiberias, October 15, 2014.

From 2004 to 2015, The Kirk's population has seen almost a third of its population drop to just below 364,000. As part of an attempt to boost its falling membership, the Church of Scotland is set to begin a two-year investigation into the practice of online baptisms and Communion, the Gazette reports.

In a recently released report, the Church recommended the launching of a two-year investigation into the positive effect of modern technology on Church attendance. The Church says the Internet may help in increasing its membership, the News & Observer relays.

"As fewer people join up in the traditional sense and as they make choices which include ever greater interaction with the Church through online access and social media, questions arise about online membership and even about access to the sacraments while not being physically present in the congregation," said the Church in the report.

The Christian sacrament of Baptism normally requires the person to be physically present during the ceremony. However, the Church's General Assembly's Blue Book points out that some of the fastest growing communities nowadays are being "fostered online."

In addition, church official Norman Smith said the move would prove that the Church is not left behind. He says there are many people practicing their Christian faith outside of church buildings, so online Christian sacraments are just another way to respond to the changes in the modern society.

The idea, however, does not come without any opposition. Free Church of Scotland moderator David Robertson calls an online baptism "ridiculous." Comparing it with online weddings and online Communion, he says the idea is just a "cheap gimmick" and a move of a failing national church that is very desperate to merely increase its membership.