18 July 2002 | David Arminas
Everything from communion wine and candles to chairs for the church hall will soon be available for the busy vicar at the click of a mouse.
Churches are about to join the Internet age with the launch of an e-marketplace offering everything they need to tend their flocks.
The Church Purchasing Scheme's (CPS) website is set to be up and running by the end of August.
CPS, the main supplies organisation for Britain's Anglican churches, is putting its first comprehensive catalogue covering all its goods and services on the revamped site.
Paul Playford, purchasing section leader at CPS, said it would also offer everything from cleaning services to car purchasing and energy deals.
"We had to keep up with what some of our smaller competitors are doing on the web," he said.
"As we get more young ministers coming through college, they bring with them the technical tools and knowledge."
He stressed that the site, www.cpsonline.co.uk
, would be "ecumenical" in that any organisation or person can use it. There is also no registration charge for using the service.
He said it had already received an order from a mosque for some chairs.
CPS has 25 regular large suppliers. It recently began buying communion wine direct from Spain after its UK distributor, John Harvey, got out of the ecclesiastical business.
CPS, which has an annual turnover of £1.2 million, was set up 15 years ago as a partnership between the Church of England Commissioners and the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group.