[Fiona McKee, A real life member of the Belfast Church, reports from outside this world]
For the last 9 months Second Life Virtual world has been the platform for Adventism’s newest media outreach!
I have had the privilege to be part of it. I am able to take on a virtual identity and move around in a world populated with adventurers from every country on earth. You would probably not be surprised if I told you that I found a vibrant community of Seventh-day Adventists there. In fact we have our own church.
"What happens in a virtual Seventh-day Adventist church?", you may ask.
Every week we:
We are currently planning a new focus study group for new members. This will begin soon.
"So what does a church look like in Second Life?" It does not look all that different from what you would expect in the real world, but there are one or two absolutely amazing features! The church itself is on an upper level. It has pews and pulpits as you would expect in most typical Seventh-day Adventist churches. We have some cool technology like giant video screens that play regular television programmes by media ministry, Amazing facts. It is on the ground level that the magic begins. There we have a 3D fully explained Tabernacle, a visual demonstration of Daniels interpretation of the statue in Daniel 2 and tour of prophecy throughout the ages. I am not aware of any real life Seventh-day Adventist church that has such amazing features. Several more pictures from our virtual world is available here.
As one of the founding members of the church it was my pleasure to interview briefly one member who has grown in strength through Second Life Adventist Church community. I met 'Creative Starfall' back in July 2010 at the weekly Bible Study. He is a former Roman Catholic who was drawn to the truths of the Bible through the media of Amazing Facts that we display in our buildings. He passionately engages in a vigorous study of the Bible and his understanding is constantly increasing!
Below is an excerpt of a conversation on Creative’s feelings about how the Second Life group has helped him. He is Portuguese and has given permission for this to be copied. He also apologizes for his English. I might add that I am known in Second Life as Pheona Avon.
Virtual Chat between Pheona Avon and Creative Starfall
Creative Starfall: next step ... Baptism! :-)
Real Life Picture of
This month sees the 8th Birthday of the Second Life virtual world. To celebrate, the creators of Second life have given all applicants a piece of ground on which they could display how Second Life is magical. As an Adventist presence we felt it was applicable to promote the Global nature of our community. Second life manages to bring people from different nations together into one church locality in a way no other media conferencing can do! Our members come from countries such as, Russia, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Bulgaria, NZ, Australia, UK, Ireland, Germany and several states in the US. It is truly a wonderful experience to ‘chat’ in one building to people who are literally logging in from their Living rooms in Australia or Brazil!
"What is our weekly attendance?", I hear you asking. Well, we have ranged from 9 seated in church to 34. When we worship, we get to listen to a real life preacher over our headseats and we can watch him standing at the pulpit in his own avatar. There is no easy way of explaining the experience in words. The only way to know the experience of the Adventist church in Second Life and what it is doing, is to come on in yourself. So I invite you today, make your account, design your avatar and let us see you in there! The most important steps are outlined below.
Join our Group in Second Life
Here is a link to the website we use to explain the Bible prophecy Island on which the church in situated on the second level: http://www.bibleprophecyisland.com/
As with all online environments it is important to point out that a person needs to be discerning. Christians are not the only people who use the environment. You need to take care of your own safety and privacy and make sure that you are grounded in a healthy real life church environment as well.
I pray that you will find this new outreach platform a positive and uplifting one, both for yourself and the church, and above all else, for the furtherance of our work in telling others about Christ and what He has done for each of us, online and offline!
Fiona McKee, Belfast church.
Editor's Comment: Shortly after the publication of this story some concerns were raised by readers that the Second Life virtual environment is not a wholesome environment to spend large amounts of one's time in. The editor is of the opinion that these critiques are important critiques and that they need to be affirmed and highlighted. It is a fact that most forms of engagement with the world of the Internet and virtual reality pose dangers for non-suspecting and non-discerning, as well as seasoned users. Many prefer to steer well clear of these dangers. Parents are always well advised to keep a watchful eye on their children's activities on the Internet. Adults would also be well advised to be equally discerning and consious that the virtual world poses a variety of threats to their wellbeing. (These threats would range from becomming addicted to the virtual interaction, being exposed to seediness that pervade the world of the Internet etc.) This is of course true of most aspects of life in the real world as well, but because the virtual world is a world of the imagination the dangers may be more pronounced.These threats exist not only on the Virtual Life platform, but also on the range of other platforms that are available, including Facebook and Twitter. It is the editor's opinion that the story highlights some extremely creative and good work that is being done in this environment. Seventh-day Adventists have made a very positive impact in these environments. People who spend time in this environment include very committed church members, lay ministers, and pastors. People's lives have been positivey impacted by their presence in these environments. The fact that church members from our Mission is involved in this kind of work is a testimony to their commitment and their faith. The responses to the story highlight very valid points of view as well and deserves to be mentioned.
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