Virtual Environments as Communication Technologies of Faith




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In consideration of the United Methodist faith, this project answers the research question, “Do inherent qualities of virtual environments offer additional faith communication dimensions that are different from other media types?” Following a historical journey from the church of the first century to The U.M.C. of the 21st-century, an extensive literature review studies the related multidisciplinary scholarship of K.C.T.E. This examination includes a socio-cultural analysis of how United Methodists and other Christians have communicated their faith through numerous technologies. The qualitative results of the primary research appear as a deep description of the latest developments in virtual-environment research at eight universities.
Demonstrating how V.E.’s could communicate the faith of The U.M.C. would entail the virtual simulation of a worship service with particular focus on the proclamation of scripture. This project distinctively presents Jerome Berryman’s “Godly Play” of as a way to conceptualize how V.E.’s could communicate scripture for pedagogical and worshipful purposes. Regarding V.E.’s and worship, this project recommends the creation of the “Simulated United Methodist Model of A Worship SERvice in a Virtual Environment” (SUMMA SERVE). In order to introduce people, especially young adults, to The U.M.C. and its faith, a second recommendation involves the creation of the “Virtual Faith-Explorer.”
Virtual environments could offer additional faith communication dimensions that differ from those of other media types. First, V.E.’s could impart the aesthetic elements of biblical accounts. V.E.’s made with high-production qualities could enclose the vision and hearing of a user in such a manner that he or she could uniquely sense the aesthetics of the biblical stories. Second, V.E.’s could uniquely show inclusion in the biblical narrative, that is, V.E.’s of biblical stories could show how Christians fit into the biblical narrative. Third, V.E.’s such as immersive V.R. and immersive A.R. could uniquely communicate the teachings that Christians are in the world but not of the world. And fourth, V.E.’s with haptic technologies could uniquely communicate the faith’s incarnational dimensions, namely touch and its importance.



Virtual reality—Religious aspects, God (Christianity)—Omnipresence, Methodist Church, Faith


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