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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Last chance to visit virtual church
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 Church of Fools - the world's first 3D online house of worship, reaches the end of its extended pilot run this Sunday, 26 September. Initially conceived as a three-month experiment, the church was launched at the UK's National Christian Resources Exhibition on May 11. Since then it has attracted thousands of visitors from all over the world - more than half of them under 30 years old and 60 per cent male. Statistics like these persuaded the church's creators to continue with their experiment in hope that a low-cost, improved version of the software could be developed. "Sadly, we have not been able to achieve this, so the church is to close after Night Prayer on Sunday," said Simon Jenkins, editor of parent webzine shipoffools.com. "Morning and Night Prayer will continue as normal through the rest of this week. We hope to open for as long as possible on Sunday. There will be a special closing service at 8pm (UK time), followed by final Night Prayer at 11pm (also UK time)." That Church of Fools exists at all is something of a miracle, said Jenkins. "Nothing could have happened without our sponsors: the UK Methodist Church, the Christian Resources Exhibition and the Anglican Bishop of London, who preached at our first service," said Jenkins. "The massive coverage given to the church by the media meant we were 'raged' by trolls during the difficult middle weeks of the experiment. Our team of highly-motivated volunteer church wardens saved us from going under several times. Despite the setbacks, we learned a huge amount in the process." To take the concept forward, major changes need to be made to the software - requiring significant amounts of time and money. "While the church is offline, we'll investigate and apply for funding from a variety of sources," said Jenkins. "We remain absolutely committed to developing the church and bringing it back online as soon as possible." To visit the church go to: http://www.shipoffools.com
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