**This is the first of a planned 4 part series I’ll be doing this summer on Presbyterians, Emergents, and Presbymergents in the popular virtual reality world, Second Life.***
If the birth of a real Presbyterian ministry in a virtual world isn’t evidence of the church emerging, I don’t know what is. And as strange, foreign, (or even silly) as the concept may sound to some, the more I explore the world of Second Life, the more convinced I become that this is a new context in which God is already at work, and God’s people across the world are already engaged in a diversity of ministry. I think we should join God, and join them.
For those not already familiar with Second Life from various news reports, magazine articles, and other usual sources of hype, to explain would take up more space than would be wise in this blog post. Instead, I recommend starting here. It’s eye opening reading, I promise.
When I first started exploring Second Life, I found plenty of evidence of minstry — from a United Methodist Chapel, to a Lutheran Pavillion, to a Taize Sanctuary 500 meters in the sky! I found the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, started two years ago by Rev. Mark Brown, which now has 800+ members and conducts five virtual services each week. I also found a community — Koinonia Congregational Church — that can best be described as “emergent” and meets weekly in a beautiful sanctuary without walls or doors.
I searched for Presbyterians. It was pretty bleak…but I did find one person — in real life she’s an elder at a Presbyterian Church in California — who has been keeping the proverbial light on, and started a group called (no surprise here) 1st Presbyterian Church of Second Life. She reserved the name with the hope and a prayer that someday more Presbyterians would come along. And now, that’s started to happen…
After several weeks of talking to people, dreaming and visioning, the number of Presbyterians in Second Life is growing — most of us are new, and probably feeling a culture shock not unlike what immigrants to the US feel (SL has a steeper learning curve than FB or twitter). But we’re starting to connect, have conversations, explore opportunities for ministry that is uniquely Presbyterian, but also uniquely Second Life. Just yesterday, our esteemed moderator, Bruce Reyes-Chow, jumped in (his SL name is Esteban Radikal), as did Philip Lotspeich (SL: Philip Lionheart) from the office of Evangelism and Growth.
So, in true Presbyterian fashion (maybe a bad thing, mabye not?) we’ve acquired some land, threw up a building (both were WAY easier and cheaper than in real life) and will be gathering on Saturday nights 9pm CST / 7pm SLT for fellowship, conversation, and perhaps eventually something like worship, too. Tomorrow night will be our very first gathering of Presbyterians in Second Life, and anyone is welcome to drop in. May God’s Spirit breathe through the bits and the bytes into a new context (for us, at least)!
- To find our meeting place in Second Life, click here. If you don’t have an account yet, you’ll have to create one.
- If you’d like to get involved with what we’re doing in Second Life, contact Neal Locke via twitter, facebook, or email neal at mrlocke dot net.
- If you created an account in Second Life but are utterly confused and lost, use the search engine to find me: I’m Neill Loxingly in Second Life. Add me as a friend, and I’ll come to your rescue, or send another SL Presbyterian to help