Member Shared

Experiences

of

First UCC Second Life



"Down deep, beneath the veneer of conventionality, there is in each of us a hunger for God,
a thirst that can be awakened, cultivated and set on the path of faith."
-- Clark Williamson and Ronald Allen in Adventures of the Spirit

Members and Friends Have Shared Their Experiences

We asked for members and friends to share their experience of church in a virtual world.  This page contains their experiences, in their own words, that we were given permission to share. 

Second Life has a vocabulary, including abbreviations that make text communication easier and faster, but that may be a bit confusing for non-residents.  So, here is a small glossary:

RL = Real Life; SL = Second Life; Sim = Simulator, a computer generated three-dimensional simulated location in a virtual world.

Dolores Rainier attends Psalter services regularly.  In referring to an article by UCC News she had this to say:

I think many that are thrown off by the idea of a "virtual" church would be surprised at just how...normal of a church it is, and then spectacular in so many other ways. ツ I think you really hit that when you noted at how it reaches groups that RL churches often can't or don't.

"J" attends the Worship Services and Evening Psalters:

I hope that other people will understand that people get to know about faith in different ways and that understanding and belief comes in different stages and that a family of church people online is just as valid, diverse and challenging as one in any city or town in any country of the world. These are real people who are in just as much need of love and care and support and belonging and that these are real people that god loves and cares about.

In RL i am a younger autistic person who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, i have also been diagnosed with chronic post traumatic stress disorder.

I find it hard sometimes to interact with other people, and also i get very sensitive to stimulus. Human contact i find hard as well but not all the time. i find people confusing so sometimes going to a place in RL can be hard. Because you can often see that i do certain things that people associate with autism i find that people make assumptions that i am weird or not intelligent. In reality i have a high IQ and i now live with a new family and i have a skilled job.

My PTSD can mean that stress and anxiety are additional complications for me, feeling safe is very important for me and it takes me a long time to trust people.

I will tell you why the SL church is important for me and why i think it is good for a lot of people. These are just my thoughts of course and may not be applicable to other people.

I am not from any kind of Christian background and i find a lot of "church talk" a bit confusing. However i did grow up in a tradition where we did a lot of meditating so i had some ideas about spirituality.

My first contact with church people came when i i used to attend a church club. I grew up in residential care, and after i moved to another facility i couldn’t go to the club any more. I didn’t live with a family until i was in my late teens.

I went to different churches in RL because i enjoyed going and i had read a lot of different literature bout Christian faith, i read about history and old Christian orders of monks as well as more modern books about the experience of people and how their faith changed their lives and the lives of other people.

I got to understand a lot more about faith, read lots of books and looked at a lot of online material as well, i learned about christen meditation and this became a really important part of my faith. Through this i learned more about holy spirit and i continued on my journey which i am still on but found a lot of comfort spending time talking to God.

I now say that i believe in Jesus and that he cares about people and the the holy spirit can move in people and in the world and help us experience the love that God has to offer in a world that often isn’t nice to people.

I came to SL because its a place that i can come and interact with people with a lot of these stresses removed and its a good place to learn things or to just hang out. I can also use SL as a place to make models, write stories and do other fun things.

One of the first things that i did in SL was to find people that I trusted were good people to hang out with and i wanted to connect with sum Christian people so that i could ask questions about my faith, What attracted me to this church was that it was a “real” church.

This made me feel safe as the people were real church leaders and people with accountability who were not just playing around. This helped me feel safe to go and talk to people and to ask questions that i wanted to know answers to. The people at the church made me feel safe and made me feel welcome.

When i first came for a few months I just watched and listened to how people interacted, I would turn up and just listen to the services and meetings and keep an eye on what people were saying and doing. I realized that people here were very much a real community and they would know about each others lives and what was going on with each other. They would pray for each other and be genuinely caring and interested.

That feels so important for me as it feels like that is what church should be and church is not defined by having a building or a certain size of congregation. I am not a scriptural person but i know the bible says that when Christians meet Jesus is in their midst. That is obvious to anyone with a heart who comes to one of the SL church meetings or stays to listen to church members pray for one another or hear them minister to each other with caring words or just sitting laughing and chatting with each other.

"Vee" is a member, volunteer Guide (kind of like a Greeter in RL), and resident:

My name is Vee Johhannsen. I am a transgendered woman in Second Life. I have been active in the ministry of First UCC SL for over 6 months as a Guide. My ministry here is radical hospitality. By the Grace of God, I strive to make other avatars who come to this Sim feel welcomed and aware that they are deeply loved by God, regardless of their appearance and experience in both Second Life and Real Life. I have also led Psalter Meditation sessions as needed. I have been a listening ear to several visitors here who needed to share their personal stories. and be accepted for who they are.

My life has been enriched by this very real Church in a virtual world.. I attend Sunday night services. I am enriched by the fellowship, the music and the inspired preaching of Pastor Jerome. It is a great way to spend Sunday evening and to center myself for the work week ahead. I regularly attend weekday Psalter Meditations. These daily meditations ground me in Scripture and provide a way of literally going to Church every day with our Psalter fellowship of 8 to 12 committed Christians who prayer the Psalms together daily.

Importantly, our fellowship is grounded in prayer. We pray daily for each other, those in need and for the needs of the world. It is the most important aspect of this ministry.

When I logged in today there were 50,000 avatars moving about SL.. Souls looking for something that is missing from their real lives. Many of them are looking for affirmation, fulfillment and love. They may not know it, but they are really searching for God. Second Life is a mission field. First UCC SL is truly a mission outpost. We reach out to others in radical welcoming Love and seek to spread the Good News that the Source of all Love is waiting for them with open arms.

"Doug" is a member and volunteer Guide:

I have attended several SL churches, but I have not found a real connection to any of them. UCC SL was the first where I felt consistently welcomed. I grew up in the Congregational church, spent 18 years as an atheist, then came back to the church in 1988, and have been attending a Lutheran (ELCA) church since. I am comfortable in all churches however, through participation in Tres Dias and the friendships formed there. In UCC SL, I find the variety of people I have met and friendships I have formed here to be so very important to me. The message, "you are welcome here" is true and powerful in its simplicity. I appreciate the ONA focus, something other SL churches (and RL) struggle mightily with. I myself am "straight" (not sure exactly what the appropriate term should be), but no different than my LGBT friends here. WWJD has never been more true than here....

The recent addition of the Garden Tomb has brought home that aspect of the Bible in a beautiful way.

 

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