; charset=UTF-8" /> First UCC Second Life Celebrates First Real Life and Virtual Reality Baptism : Connecting Voices
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First UCC Second Life Celebrates First Real Life and Virtual Reality Baptism

The first virtual reality located church with full standing in any mainline denomination achieved another first on January 7, 2018, the Sunday celebrated as the Baptism of Christ.  At the regular evening worship service Mr. Jonni Connor, a member of First United Church of Christ Second Life, was baptized in a ceremony that included both virtual world and real world participation.  Connor has been a member of First UCC Second Life for many months and requested baptism.  The sacrament had not been administered for him in real life.

Rev. Christine MetcalfNg and Rev. Dr. Jerold Garber planned the liturgy for the occasion to include use of Connor’s real life name and for a member of Connor’s family to sprinkle water at the same time the ritual was performed by the avatars representing the participants in Second Life.  “We knew that Mr. Connor is challenged by autism,” said Garber, “which prohibits him from interacting verbally, being in a crowded environment, or being touched in the real world.”  “We believe that God is present in all places, and that conducting the baptism with real life use of water and using the real name of the person being baptized, were sufficient,” Garber added.

Some of those attending the service remarked that they were in tears of joy.  Connor is currently working on a book on autism to help persons not familiar with the condition better understand those who live with autism.  His ability to interact in the First UCC Second Life community has led to him being appointed a Guide, the virtual world version of usher.

First United Church of Christ celebrated four years of ministry in October of 2017 and was installed as a church with full standing in the Eastern Association, Southern California Nevada Conference in November of 2016.  Information about the ministry is available on the church website http://www.firstuccsl.org

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