VR Church is one of several evolving spiritual spaces in the metaverse that has seen a huge increase in size and popularity over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Founded in the United States in 2016 by DJ Soto, a pastor based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, VR Church has seen its base of participants grow steadily year after year.
“Other people who identified with faith said hey I want to help out and volunteer and so there was like this epiphany where we were like, oh wait a minute we have this, I think we just planted a church, we started a church,” said Soto.
“We have all the functions of, of how you would think a physical church, or how you would define a physical church, we’re expressing that here in the metaverse”.
When they increased services to every week, DJ Soto said it felt like a psychological shift.
“We are no different than any other church, whether it’s physical or if it’s in the metaverse,” he said, explaining that they now “interact with hundreds of people in live worship. Our influence is certainly into the thousands”.
‘Making scripture more meaningful’
First-time attendee Garret Bernal, who identifies as a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, applauded and praised the build of the virtual reality church.
“They have 3D illustrations, so they set up verses all over and they set up 3D illustrations for the verses,” he said.
“I was able to go and read the verses, like especially these buildings over here, I was able to see a rendering of the verse I was reading, which made scripture much more meaningful for me”.
Soto believes the future of churchgoing lies in the metaverse because “it reaches people who can’t physically go to church,” he said.