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Attending a Virtual Church Becoming Easier: Bringing Services to the Home

Article excerpt

I BEGAN this column on a Sunday morning, when I probably should have been getting myself and my family ready for church, but a flu bug has me convinced I shouldn't inflict myself on anyone else.

But what about still attending "church" from home?

For years, churches have been experimenting with how to bring the experience of church to those who, for one reason or another, can't physically attend. Some rig their audio systems to tape the church service or set up a live audio feed with a speaker phone, even inviting parishioners to exchange the peace with the listener on the receiving end. Others have used television, and a quick scan through the channels any Sunday morning proves this a popular medium for shut-ins craving spiritual renewal.

But the advent of the Internet has brought new media and opportunities onto the spiritual stage. Churches are offering everything from audio and lower-tech text versions of the weekly sermon, panoramic views of building interiors, to live Internet broadcasts of services.

Heck, one exiled French Roman Catholic bishop who found himself contrary to the Vatican's rulebook has even founded what he calls the world's first virtual diocese, called Partenia (http:// www.partenia.fr). Despite its lofty claims, the site has monthly catechisms, but not much else of use to a seeker. On the other hand, The First Church of Cyberspace (http://www.godweb.org) is a marvellously comprehensive site filled with sermons, music, prayers and links to other religious resources on the Web. Conceived of by a Presbyterian pastor, the site also serves as a portal to the mainstream media's treatment of religion.

For something a little different, Seattle's St. …