From 1st Presbyterian Church of Second Life
What do you believe?
As Christians we share a long heritage that connects us with other Christians throughout history, beginning in the sacred scriptures of the Bible, and grounded in both the Apostle's Creed and the Nicean Creed. As Presbyterians specifically affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) we are guided by the confessions of the reformed tradition, specifically those in our Book of Confessions, which can be found here.
Are you really a church?
The confessions mentioned above speak of a universal church that encompasses all Christians in all times and places. In this sense, we are decidedly a church--or at least part of it. On the other hand, particular churches in our denomination are organized and created according to a specific process described in the PC(USA) Book of Order, and bound to a geographic location within a Presbytery and a Synod. By this definition, we are not a church, but are rather a ministry officially connected to the Office of Evangelism & Growth of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Why do you use the word "Church" in your name?
One of our organizing tasks is to explore what it means to be a community of faith (in other words, a church) in a virtual environment. The environment may be virtual, but all of the people and relationships in our community are very real. By calling ourselves "church" we remind ourselves of this critical aspect of our mission. Finally, our name predates our affiliation with the PCUSA, and reflects the long-standing tradition in Presbyterian culture of naming the first gathering of believers in a new place "1st Presbyterian Church of XYZ." For these reasons, we have left our name unchanged. We hope that this explanation will help avoid confusion, and that perhaps someday--if God leads us in this direction and if our polity allows it--we may "grow into" the name.
Do you engage in virtual sacraments?
Because we value the sacraments so highly, and because our theology (or ecclesiology, rather) is still catching up with our technology, we do not practice the sacraments at this time. However, as part of our commitment to exploring what it means to be a community of faith in a virtual environment, we do spend quite a bit of time discussing and reflecting on how the sacraments might best be honored and practiced in this context, within the bounds of our confessions and polity.
What DO you do, then?
We gather on a regular basis to pray for one another, to engage in lively discussions about our faith and our denomination, and to spend time together in fellowship. We even dance. Additionally, we help and serve one another, and reach out in love to our virtual neighbors, whomever they may be. We hold one another accountable. As an intentional outreach beyond the virtual world and into the physical world, we have "adopted" Goodland Academy in Hugo, Oklahoma, and work to support their ministry with our time, our prayers, and our finances. From time to time, we host events designed to educate, inform, and foster greater understanding about our faith, our practices, and our heritage. We have fun, but we take our calling to ministry and mission very seriously.
How can I participate?
We'd love to welcome you into our community. You'll need to sign up for an account at SecondLife.com (basic accounts are free) and download the software to connect to the virtual world. Once you're there, type the word "Presbyterian" in the search bar to find us. Check out our Gathering times to see when we'll be around, and if you need someone to meet you "in world" and figure things out, just send an email to info@1PCSL.org. Make sure to include the name of your avatar (your Second Life account name) so we can find you more easily.