Rising early on a Sunday morning and dressing in your finest threads for the church service will no longer be necessary, with the launch of the virtual Church Of Fools next month.
– 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 NIV
Opening its doors on 11 May, the cyber-church permits worshippers to join the congregation via their computers and attend services held by real priests or pastors.
Every facet of a priest’s role in a usual service will be replicated – they’ll welcome members of the congregation, preach from a pulpit and lead the prayers.
Pious PC users perched on pews can also interact with fellow attendees by conversing with each other, singing hymns or even praying together. There will even be a collection plate, though it’s doubtful it’ll be for repairs to the cyber-steeple, which can be contributed to via SMS.
Ship of Fools editor Simon Jenkins said: “While there are excellent websites which help people meditate and pray, no one has built an interactive 3D church environment before – complete with gothic arches and hard wooden pews.”
As yet there are no plans to develop other common activities you would find in earthly churches, like christenings or jumble sales.
Last month, the Diocese of Oxford posted a job advert for the position of internet parish at the Church of England’s internet church (or I-church). The I-church is aimed at people who want to be part of the Christian community but “are not able or do not wish to join a local parish church”.
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