Pastor quits job to create radically-inclusive virtual reality church

Soto shares a photo of his churchgoers in his virtual reality church; they hail from all around the world. Image: Instagram/@dj_soto

It seems going to church and praising the Lord no longer requires leaving your house on a Sunday morning in your Sunday’s best, to sit through mass with your entire family. One pastor makes this quite possible through his virtual reality church.

D.J. Soto quit his job as pastor of his local megachurch in Reading, Pennsylvania, according to Wired in Feb. 2, to create his own church — and not just any other church.

Soto wasn’t satisfied with just preaching to people who only went to church during Sunday; he wanted to have a wider reach and preach to more people around the world, so he decided to establish his own church through AltSpaceVR.

AltSpaceVR is a software startup company in Redwood City, California; it is a social networking application that allows users to join three-dimensional chatrooms and events through the use of a headset. In Soto’s case, he uses a Google Oculus Rift headset to deliver his sermons.

Image: Instagram/@dj_soto

Anyone who wants to join in on the virtual reality church need only a headset and AltSpaceVR to start listening to Soto’s sermons. Soto’s church by the way, doesn’t seem any different from most churches, complete with pews, a podium for the pastor, and an image of the cross.

It just so happens that it is projected from the screen of a computer.

Soto’s Virtual Reality Church. Image: Instagram/@dj_soto

Soto’s virtual reality church comes as a groundbreaking innovation, especially since he aims to make it as radically inclusive as possible. “I went to Catholic school and all that,” Soto told Wired. “It was very difficult. I had nuns for teachers and they were pretty hardcore, and they would beat the stories into you. I felt like everyone around me was brainwashed.”

Now, even Soto’s virtual reality church attracts atheists, and although he avoids hard political issues such as abortion in his sermons, he encourages discourse and arguments on faith and science among the churchgoers.

Soto also invites other pastors to deliver sermons in his virtual reality church, as seen below. “One of the elders of Virtual Reality Church preached tonight,” Soto said in an Instagram photo from August last year. “Brian Leupold, thanks for your sermon about taking care of the poor.”

One of the elders preaching in the virtual church, August 2017. Image: Instagram/@dj_soto

Today, Soto remains adamant in trying to connect with other churches and pastors for his virtual church reality.

“We haven’t stopped trying, but we are wondering if that type of support is further down the road,” Soto told Wired. “Maybe we need to do a radical tactical shift to support from outside the church and church planting organisations.” Cody Cepeda/JB

Soto takes a selfie with the churchgoers before the sermon, July 2017. Image: Instagram/@dj_soto

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