Vicar accidentally sets himself on fire during online service

Stephen Beach wasn't harmed

Church pastors are normally in the business of setting hearts on fire but for one vicar broadcasting a virtual sermon, it was his sweater. 

Reverend Stephen Beach was delivering the final part of his online worship for St Budeaux Parish Church in Plymouth when he leaned a little too close to some candles, causing his jumper to catch alight. 

The vicar was in the middle of explaining the importance of waiting on God when flames appeared over his shoulder. 

Realising what was happening, he calmly told viewers: "Oh dear, I've caught fire, oh my word." 

Luckily, the 61-year-old wasn't harmed in the slip-up and was able to blow out the flames, although his sweater didn't fare so well.

He has been able to see the funny side, saying that he and other vicars have been joking about "being on fire for Jesus". 

"I just felt my arm getting a bit hot. The nice thing is, it did damage my pullover and my shirt but my arm is fine - there's no burn on my arm," he told Sky News. 

Vicars across the country have been broadcasting worship digitally, many for the first time, after public church services were suspended because of coronavirus. 

The Church of England, Methodist Church, Catholic Church and Baptist Union of Great Britain have all cancelled public worship for the foreseeable future over the pandemic. 

Mr Beach admitted it's been quite a shift for him personally.

"The whole thing is a bit surreal - there's never been a time where we've deliberately not gone to Sunday worship, so that's very strange," he said. 

"I've never phoned so many people really, because normally you go and visit people."