Are you Ready for Virtual Reality Church?

After seven years leading a small but vibrant Unitarian Universalist congregation in the Bay Area of Northern California, I was ready for something new. But when I found myself breaking up a light saber battle that erupted in the middle of the meditation class I led at my new gig this week, I wondered if I was truly ready for all the new challenges that lay ahead.

The dojo in which I taught the class could not have been more spectacular in architecture or location. Made mostly of wood, with a very open concept, it hovered, as if magically suspended, above an endless lake that spilled off towards unreachable and majestic mountain peaks in all directions. It was also all made up, a figment of someone’s imagination, a Virtual World, created for my eyes by the goggles strapped to the front of my face and connected by a thick black cord to a giant box of a computer in the corner of my real life office in San Jose, CA. My new job, believe it or not, is to create the world’s first Virtual Reality spiritual community as part of the incredible mission and online ministry of the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

And I would like to welcome you, oh fellow spiritual adventurer, on to this journey with me. I intend to use this space to share, as best I can, a window into what we learn as we beta-test VR spiritual tools. We have lots of ideas about what may actually help nurture spiritual growth in VR, but only time and lots of playing, I mean testing, will reveal what is actually useful in this completely unexplored and unknown virtual reality.

Our first beta tests will be conducted within two existing VR platforms; AltspaceVR, and Project Sansar (also known by some as Second Life 2.0). While the experiences we will create will best be undertook with a VR setup like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, they are also accessible, albeit with limited functionality, through any tablet, laptop, desktop PC or Mac after downloading free software. If you are interested in joining our volunteer team of beta testers, please drop me a line at jnickel@clfuu.org explaining your interest and I will send you an invite.

That’s it for now, if you need me I’ll exploring the surface of the moon.

Yours in the unfolding,

Rev. Jeremy D. Nickel