The first gathering of the “Being Christian in SL” discussion group took place this past Saturday, and interest is very strong! Over the course of what turned out to be a two-hour discussion, approximately 20 people, both cathedral regulars and newcomers, came and went, and contributed to a very rich discussion of the topic at hand.
The participants came from the US, Canada, the UK and elsewhere in Europe. When asked what has impressed them most about the cathedral, the overwhelming response was the sense of community they found with us. Many commented that most of the other spiritual areas that they had encountered in SL seem to be empty most of the time, but there are often community members around the cathedral, sharing fellowship even when there is no specific event scheduled.
When asked what the appeal of the cathedral is, the opportunity to meet Christians from around the world was cited as an important component. Many also mentioned the fact that it has been a blessing to many who due to their circumstances do not have access to a real-life church community, or who, for whatever reason, don’t feel welcome or accepted by the communities they do have access to. It was also noted that this experience of church can be perceived as a “safe” alternative for those who have an interest in becoming involved in a Christian community, but don’t yet feel comfortable stepping foot in a real world church.
The matter of what form our SL liturgies should take was also discussed. There was a definite opinion that the essential form of Anglican liturgy should be preserved, both because it’s inherent beauty, and “because, why else bother to call this an Anglican church?” However, many participants noted that they had some difficulty with the current service format (such as trouble with the cut-and-paste format and being distracted by trying to keep up with everything on the screen). There was also a desire for more lay involvement in the services. As this way of doing church evolves, it will be very interesting to see what forms of worship come out of it. I expect (and hope!) that some creative ideas will come out of future discussions.
This brought up the matter of the volunteer opportunities that Arkin has extended to the community, as a response to the results of the recent survey he conducted on our experiences at the cathedral. It was agreed that the most pressing need is for community members to serve as greeters to visitors and newcomers, both at regular service times and all through the day. Many people were interested in doing this, but didn’t feel that they would be able to make definite time committments. The idea was put forward that community members might be encouraged to be intentional about checking in at the cathedral whenever they are in-world, to welcome visitors, and offer support to other community members who are there.
Outreach efforts were also addressed. Some ideas included making efforts to help publicize cathedral events to the greater SL community, interacting with other Christian communities in SL, and helping those that visit us become familiar and comfortable with our liturgy.
The conversation ended with a discussion on how sacraments might work in SL. There is great interest in exploring ideas about this, mixed with caution that we not rush into this area too quickly. The hope was expressed that no action on this be undertaken without the full involvement and support of the SL Anglican community.
As you can see, a lot of ground was covered here! I encourage everyone to attend these discussions, even if you can only participate for a short while. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know each other, and for everyone to have a voice in the future direction of our community. These gatherings will continue to be held each Saturday at 11 a.m. SLT, and take place at the benches in front of the Parish House. I also encourage and welcome your comments and ideas on this blog. Please let us know how we can work to serve you, and grow this wonderful Christian community in Second Life!