I have seen it all now. It was about a week or two ago when I was trudging along on Atlantic, taking the moongate to Luna to check the latest on dyes for a new robe I had acquired when I stumbled upon a rune. Not an unusual thing, typically large vendors will use this method to advertise, merchants trying to market for off-Luna wares at discount prices. But this rune said something that caught my eye. “Sunday Church Service - 7:00 p.m. EST, come one, come all!” No way. Being a curious type, I hit the rune. It was coincidentally about 2 minutes after 7. I encountered two structures built like churches, one was filled to the brim with players. I dismounted my ethereal horse and walked in, finding just one empty bench left in the building. At the front was a woman dressed in white and red, giving a sermon. A Christian sermon. The topic was forgiveness and patience. An ankh punctuated the altar, comprised of white marble with a Fountain of Life (I assume for blessings and holy water). A cross formed of goza mats was emblazoned on the floor of the building, and I realized that the stone on the front of the structure also was in the form of a giant stained glass cross. I couldn’t help but sit through the sermon. I kept looking at the congregation. Kellen, Grandmaster Mage. CREE DAL, Foe of the Abyss. Shawn, Legendary Tamer with the giant half-dog/half-dragon creature parked outside. The contrast seemed dizzying. Here there was a female pastor espousing the virtues of non-denominational Christian faith in, of all places, Sosaria. West of Trinsic near the Bog of Desolation to be precise. I felt awkward to be wearing a wizard hat. My spellbook has a gigantic pentagram right on the front. I had just re-trained Necromancy, and I think my title was showing up as “The Ignoble GreyPawn, Elder Necromancer”. I did however thank my lucky stars that I had recently purchased scrolls and had an odd 4,000 or so in loose gold in my pack - tithes should the social pressure mount and the need arise. Eventually the sermon ended and I left, beating a hasty retreat to my guild’s headquarters. Since that time, I expected to see no more of them, a fluke, fly-by-night and hardly permanent. Instead they have expanded and now conduct midnight sermons on Saturday, as well as a normal service on Sunday. What does this mean? Ultimately, it means that emergent behavior is not limited to direct expressions of in-game ingeniousness. It means that human experience is pervasive. It means that in the wildest of all imaginations, we are likely going to be witness to what happens when one of the largest world religions finds itself in a fictional universe that has its own set of religions and morality. Can Christianity resolve Virtues and Principles with Beatitudes and Fruits of the Spirit? Is the Avatar going to end up a symbol for Christ, or vice-versa? As it stands, the Church of UO is a thing, functional, extant and as far as I can tell not going to go away anytime soon. It is wholly maintained within the game, offering services to users who would otherwise not even consider attending church locally. That it exists, and how it got there does make me think of community in new ways, and certainly demonstrates a new paradigm. I caught up with the pastor and interviewed her a bit, just to pick her brain on what the deal was. What made you decide to start a church in UO? “God led me to it.” What tenets do you follow? “Non-denominational. Come as you are, be as you are. No judgment, just the word of God.” As it turns out, her son has played UO for almost 12 years, and she is an active member of the music ministry in “real life”. I couldn’t help stiffle a laugh later, taking a tour through the church, noticing in the private quarters an arcane circle in bright blue plastered upon the floor. Appropriate decor is probably difficult to come by for the (unofficial) Sosarian non-denominational offshoot of the Assemblies of God. I neglected to ask whether banksitting would be considered a sin, and whether or not there is an active outreach program to minister to the reds of Felucca. Praise the lord and pass the reagents?