Many religious denominations now offer interactive digital spaces in addition to traditional services, but unique to COVID-19 is an opportunity to experience spirituality in an immersive 3D environment through virtual reality (VR) technology.
According to the NZ Herald, Garrett Bernal and his family missed their last Sunday service while in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. So he put on a virtual headset and tried to pray with Metaverse.
He was instantly transported into a 3D virtual world of grasslands, rocks, and rivers as the pastor’s representative took him and others through computer-generated images of Bible passages brought to life. Bernal, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said:
“I would never have such an exciting ecclesiastical experience in my seat. I was able to see the scriptures in a new way.”
Religious leaders such as D. Soto, a pastor from Fredericksburg, Virginia, advocates the benefits of virtual reality and sees it as a step forward in human self-actualization. The future of church attendance, he says, is in reverse because it “reaches people who are physically unable to go to church” because of COVID-19 or other aspects. Speaking to Cointelegraph, Soto stressed that “talk about technology and spirituality must coexist,” he said.
“We have people getting involved due to COVID-19 or not being able to access their physical church. We are the Web3 church, the first of its kind to lead Christianity into the bold world of Cryptocurrency, DAO” Blockchain and other next-generation technologies. Talk of technology and spirituality must coexist. We live Its the best times to experience this kind of innovation and we look forward to moving forward.”
According to Soto, the entire virtual church is based on the metaverse and aims to develop loving spiritual communities in the virtual world.
According to the Herald, there was little interest in partaking in the first year, and Soto often preached to a small group of people, mostly atheists and agnostics, who were more interested in discussing religion. However, the document says his group has since expanded to about 200 people.
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The report cites another pastor, Reverend Jeremy Nickel, a Unitarian/Unitarian/Unitarian minister who lives in Colorado and calls himself a virtual reality evangelist. His idea was to build a community and “get away from bricks and mortar” when he founded SacredVR in 2017. However, it was only after the COVID-19 pandemic that the group’s membership increased from a few dozen to hundreds.