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‘Second Life’ for Danish church in cyberspace

The Copenhagen diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark has taken the denomination into cyberspace through the Web-based virtual world called "Second Life".

On this site, the online church can be found on the "island" called "Danmark", and its priest, an "avatar" (online 3D representation) called Pellegrina, is a priest in real life as well, the denomination said on its own Web site.

"The business world discovered the possibilities of Second Life a long time ago, and now government departments, companies, banks and relief organizations have their place here. Now the national church has caught up with the times," the church noted.

San Francisco-based Linden Lab created Second Life and opened it to the public in 2003. In August this year there were more than 9 million "residents" in this online world, reported a US publication, The NonProfit Times.

A Roman Catholic academic recently suggested establishing a presence in Second Life, and noted that it is becoming populated with churches, mosques, temples, cathedrals, synagogues and places of prayer of all kinds.

"And behind an avatar there is a man or a woman, perhaps searching for God and faith, perhaps with very strong spiritual needs," wrote the Rev. Antonio Spadaro in the Jesuit journal Civilita Cattolica.

The first on-line service of the Danish church took place on 2 September, and 15 avatars showed up. Pellegrina opened the service and said a prayer. The virtual congregation was then guided via questions to the reading of the day. After the Lord’s Prayer, Pellegrina gave a blessing.

At present, the virtual Danish church has about 50 visitors a week and the next service will be on 7 October at 8 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST). 

Ecumenical News International