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Thursday, 25 December 2008

St Pixels Online Virtual Church

11pm Egypt Time (9pm GMT) today - St Pixels online Christmas Service

Well its Christmas Day today. Not a big deal for me - I have avoided Christmas for the past 15 years or so for personal reasons (not sad ones just for info!). However, I know it is a time when many people, especially those far from home, miss family and friends, and also some of the Christmas traditions like going to Church.

About 18 months ago I read an article in The Church Times about an online church called St Pixels Even though I don't 'do' church I was interested in the idea as I have been a consumer of online communities for many years and realise the potential they have for developing friendships and support networks spanning the globe in many spheres of life.

Last night, I once again posted a link to this church on one of the Egypt forums I frequent for anyone who was missing their Christmas church. There was an online carol service last night and tonight at 9pm UK time (11pm Egypt Time) there is an online Christmas service. However, this time I decided to check it out for myself to see how long it took to load and the format of the online service.

For me, it took 20 minutes from initial registration to entering the online service. I already have java on my computer so not sure how long extra you would need to allow if you don't already have it.

Ok process -

First you need to register on the site, this takes the usual form these days of registering, confirmation email etc.

Then, for St Pixels Live your computer needs to be able to run java - most computers can, but if its not your own computer then ability may have been turned off. (You can check if you have got java by clicking on this Chat Room demo demo to see if you have got java on your computer. If you get an orange box with the word Java on it and then a chat room login page, then you should be ok for this. Otherwise you will have to download it.

This downloads and there are details on the site of what to do at various stages.
Eventually you will have an icon appear on your desktop for St Pixels. Click it and you get a plan of a church up in the top right hand corner. If you wait a few moments, you will see number coming up showing the number of people in the various areas of the church so you can see if they are in the Sanctuary (for the service) or the Bar (for random chatting).

The service is led in a top box where the various elements that you would normally hear read out are posted. You can interact in the lower box if you wish though it seemed most people didn't. At some point organ music started coming out so you could connect to either speakers or headset and sing along if you wish. At this point I had a phone call so was not able to see if they put the words up for those whose memory may be a little rusty on the subject of Hark The Herald Angels Sing.

I returned later to 'the Bar' and chatted to a few people - you don't have to be religious to join, and I was assured that a couple of atheists attend regularly. I did say that just because I don't do Church doesn't mean I'm an atheist!
As ever with online forums there are rules to follow and St Pixels has a set of core values which you should agree to before joining - basically around tolerance of people with different opinions, not taking offence at things and so on and so forth.

Here is a quick one page summary of the site: St Pixels in one page

I think this is a great idea whether you are big on church or not. In fact the more I am looking at it, I'm thinking its a gorgeous site - very attractive to look at and use, its quality work!

Online worshipping communities:
These are links simply as a service to my readers, I have not tried them out and cannot speak for any views or otherwise expressed therein... (I will add to this list as and when I become aware of places!)


St Pixels

The Internet Church


Cyber Synagogue


I haven't been able to find an online mosque yet, but apparently there's one in Second Life:
article about Virtual Mosque in Second Life
Another possibility is a new virtual Muslim world
Muxlim Pal

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