Virtual Church Holds First Service

( [email protected] ) May 12, 2004 09:14 AM EDT

The virtual church by gave its opening service with web surfers gathered from around the world. The event drew 150 people giving believers the first chance to log on and worship interactively.

The event was launched at the 20th national Christian resources exhibition in Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, UK. The inaugural sermon was given by Bishop of London Richard Chartres in another room at the exhibition center via speech bubbles.

Members of the congregation logged on as 3D cartoons and gathered in the online church complete with stained glass window, gothic arches and wooden pews. Users were able to walk and kneel in the church, and whisper or shout, bless and say "hallelujah!" during the services.

The Lord's Prayer was typed into the Internet captions during the service in French, Latin and English.

The Bishop of London said he had enjoyed the service and mentioned the importance of having the message the Gospel present on the Internet.

After the service, he commented: "I am somebody who does not believe in a one-size-fits-all solution. I think the more you live through the screen, the more you need face-to-face real time interaction. But I think it is clearly right that, just as all sorts of other forces are attempting to colonize cyberspace, that the conversation into which God has invited us should be present in cyberspace."

GP Taylor, the best-selling author of Shadowmancer, will also preach in the online church in June. "I'm looking forward to continuing my ministry through this innovative new development in the way we do church," he said.

The is now established as one of the most popular religious sites on the web, attracting more that 2 million page views each month from more than 80,000 people.