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Religious activities relocate to the metaverse due to COVID-19 issues

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The future of churchgoing, according to D.J. Soto, resides in the metaverse because "it reaches people who can't physically go to church."

Several religious groups now provide virtual engaging places to complement conventional services, but COVID-19 provides the potential to explore devotion in a realistic 3D experience via virtual reality (VR) technology.

Garret Bernal and his family were missing from a recent Sunday service due to their quarantine for COVID-19 exposure, as per the NZ Herald. As a result, he slipped on a virtual reality headset and attempted to worship in the metaverse.

He was immediately taken to a three-dimensional virtual universe of pastures, cliffs, and rivers, where a pastor's representative led him and others through computer-generated pictures of Biblical texts that came alive. Bernal, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member, indicated:

“I couldn’t have had such an immersive church experience sitting in my pew. I was able to see the scriptures in a new way.”

Religious leaders such as D.J. Soto, a pastor in Fredericksburg, Virginia, has endorsed the advantages of virtual reality and deem it as a move toward human self-realization. According to him, the metaverse is the future of churchgoing because "it reaches people who can't physically go to church" because of COVID-19 or other factors. Soto highlighted the significance of "conversations about technology and spirituality coexist," saying:

“We have people who attend due to COVID-19, or for lack of accessibility to their physical church. We are a Web3 church, a first-of-its-kind, that will lead Christianity into the brave world of cryptocurrency, DAOs, blockchain and other next-generation technologies. Conversations about technology and spirituality need to coexist. We are living in the best of times to experience innovation like this, and we are looking forward to the journey ahead.”

According to Soto, the VR church is fully centred on the metaverse and seeks to build loving religious groups throughout the virtual space.

As per the Herald, participation was low throughout the first year, and Soto regularly discovered himself addressing a small group of people, most of them were sceptics and agnostics who were more interested in talking about religion. However, as per the document, his group has indeed grown to approx 200 people.

Reverend Jeremy Nickel, a Unitarian Universalist minister who resides in Colorado and describes himself as a VR evangelist, is also another clergyman mentioned in the report. When he developed SacredVR in 2017, he planned to create a community and "get away from the brick and mortar."The group's membership did not grow from several dozens to hundreds of persons till the COVID-19 pandemic.

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