Woman who started following church online travels thousands of miles to attend in person

A WOMAN from America who started following a Hampshire church online during the pandemic has finally traveled thousands of miles to meet everyone.

Andrea Board, of Winchester, Va., started following the church on Facebook last year.

However, after more than a year of contributing digitally, she was recently welcomed with open arms by the Avon Valley Churches congregation in person, and even renewed her baptismal vows at St Mary’s in Fordingbridge.

She said: “I never thought something so positive could come out of such a negative situation and yet here I am today. Each of you represents a big part of my spiritual journey and I am very grateful to you.

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“From Saturday afternoon, when I arrived, I was welcomed by people who shaped my journey of faith and became my family and my community. So many people surrounded and supported me when I renewed my baptismal vows. Relationships deepened and more friendships were formed.

Andrea was introduced to online content by ordinand-in-training Jo Criscenti after meeting her sister. From that moment Andrea did not miss a serve.

She even contributed her own monthly Thought of the Day to the Avon Valley Church Facebook page which has over 1,000 followers.

Avon Valley Church, Reverend John Towler said: “For the church, Covid 19 has been tragic in the devastation of loss of life and beneficial in terms of our reach.

“Andrea’s story is an abundant testimony to this technology which has bridged the Atlantic and enabled her and many other local people to renew a sense of connection with God and His Church and brought him strength and comfort in turbulent times.”

Martha J. Finley