Friday, April 6, 2012

The New Life Church

Second Life reflects real life in a number of ways. Among them, people coming to church here on the Grid. Among them is the New Life Church, led by Sixgin Ares (Pastor Dan) and Lynne Applewhyte.

Sixgin is a pastor in real life, and has been in Second Life for a few years. In 2008 when interviewed by Second Life Newspaper, he was in charge of the Church of the Living God in the COTLG sim.

Lynne had gotten her start in another Grid, the Opensim New World. There, she learned how to build, and eventually owned two sims there. Forming the "New Life Church," others could join up and get a home there if they asked. The group went from a beginning number of five to 380. Trouble was, she found the place rather unstable.

She had first found out about Second Life in 2006, hearing about it on "Good Morning America." Giving it a try, however, "Everything was gray." A few years later, she had a new computer and was willing to give it another try. She began preaching there as well, finding it more stable. She continued to expand her ministries. She still does some work on Opensim, though is no longer expanding there.

Lynne first met up with Sixgin in 2011, him still preaching at his own church. Soon, he began holding services at hers. "He's pretty handy to have around," Lyne told me, then grinned, "So I married him. Actually, we met in real life. We married in December."

New Life Church in Second Life has several events a week. The Saturday service is at 11:45AM with Sixgin. The Sunday services are 11:45AM with Sixgen and 4:45 PM with Lynne. Tuesday has another sermon by Lynne at 4:45 PM. On Thursday at 4PM is a prayer group. On Friday, there is a Bible study group at 5PM.

There are dances at the nearby club every Saturday evening, and a small freebie store close by. There is a movie theater, which can show a total of 11 movies. There's also a 7Seas fishing area.

When asked how many attended services, they answered 14-16 was a frequent number, but it was growing over time. Anyone is welcome to join their church, and those with artistic talents are especially welcome. They sometimes preach at other places and groups in Second Life, such as Sarafina Flow's River of Life Ministries. They also do skits, recordings of some which can be found on youtube. They also have a group in Facebook: New Life Christian Center in Second Life.

Of those coming by their church on the Grid, "We find people come and go fairly quickly." Of the five founding members, "only we and Carpenter are left." They were introduced to Inworldz, but didn't find it as "cost effective" to establish a church as in Second Life, "there was a nice church … but few showed up."

Last Easter, a number of pastors came to New Life Church. Sixgin built a special stage, and the visiting preachers had up to a half an hour each to give a sermon. Their Christmas session had a candlelight service.

Lynne mentioned, "I was ordained a minister in real life. The ceremony was also done in Second Life." She mentioned one of the men from the board that approved her came to Second Life to see the church for himself. He observed things for a couple weeks. The inworld ceremony was about an hour. Sixgin and Lynn also redid their marriage ceremony in Second Life.

They described church services as "Biblical … rather than preach the law, we preach the love of Christ." The chichi is non-denominational, "we have all kinds come here."

Drama is of course not tolerated. So far, there have been no grieving incidents. Sixgen commented, "I feel when we preach the word here and preach in truth … God protects us." They've talked to an occasional troubled soul, once in a while suggesting to the person they go for professional help. Lynn told of a student asking her to pray she did well in college. She told her she would, but told her she still had to study, "We try to give practical advice in addition to praying to God." They brought up the mana from Heaven described in Exodus, reminding although God answered the Hebrews' prayer for food, they still had to go out and gather it, "A lot of people think God's going to do it all for them. … you have to earn it."

Although New Life Church is in a virtual world, Sixgin and Lynn say it's still a real ministry. Their plans for this Easter, during the interview in mid-March they felt they would have a revival. At the time, there was still a little landscaping being done, the current building being a recent one. Their tier was currently being covered by a friend.

Sixgin and Lynn mentioned one tale involving a visiting minister. A writer, he decided to do the pictures in Second Life for one story he was working on, "When he had a scene, he would pull his alt and act out the scene." He later published his story on Kindel. On his website, he included a picture of the New Life Church.

The New Life Church is in the Shelton sim. Porting to (179, 226, 52) will take one just outside the chapel.

Bixyl Shuftan

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