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GA will be June 25-29, 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. FUUCSL is poised to make a big splash with the UUA during this coming GA. Feel free to add to this page as good ideas (or even those that may yet fully flower) as they come to you.

Who's going to GA

Eric Burch (Etaoin Barcelona) has gotten the OK to go. I've even reserved a room at the Embassy Suites (a few blocks from the convention center, and may become a GA hotel): two beds, two rooms, balcony, looking over the city, nonsmoking.

IF ANYONE ELSE THINKS THEY WILL BE AT GA AND WANT TO HELP, let me know (ericLburch@gmail.com).

  • Sofia Freenote has indicated that she plans to attend.
  • Otenth Paderborn and Cathleen Cleanslate will be there as part of their other UUA and congregational duties.

Presentations or Exhibits

WE HAVE A PRESENTATION SLOT. Details as of January 30 can be found at this link.

I'm thinking that we'll have a PowerPoint presentation and answer questions during one session, possibly have a panel discussion session another day, and set up a Second Life demo in the cyber cafe or the hotel room. I don't want to go too overboard, but 2 or 3 hours a day (and too much time at night in the hotel room!) may be about right.

The proposal

The Word file is in the Google Group (and has a neat picture of the sanctuary), but if you can't open it here are the words.

If you want access to the Google group, let me know. It is located at http://groups.google.com/group/fuucsl

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The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life Connecting the Common Threads of the Global Fellowship in Cyberspace

The sanctuary at “Lovelace” in Second Life. The white pads allow congregants to sit, listen, discuss, and dance. The candles near the pads light the sanctuary at night. Above the seating area is a canopy with stained glass images of religious and secular themes. In front of the seating area is a small pond (with a pet squid), connected to the ocean visible to the left. On the left is a working harp, and moving to the right you can see a UU Chalice symbol, the pulpit, a waterfall, a bridge over the pond, a screen that can display videos, a blue water-ceremony cup and plate, and a quilt summarizing the UU Principles. In front of the quilt are the covers of recent UU World magazines and UUA information: clicking on one will bring up a web page on your computer with the online magazine issue or the information. In the lower right corner is a brown bowl to accept donations, and a column that relays communications to the older sanctuary elsewhere in Second Life.

The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life Connecting the Common Threads of the Global Fellowship in Cyberspace

A proposal for a Workshop Presentation for the UUA General Assembly 2008.

Contact Person and Information: Eric Burch. 14405 Oakvale Street, Rockville, MD 20853. 301-442-8907. ericburch@comcast.net . Although I am a member of the UU Church of Rockville, MD, my church is not involved with this presentation. Proposed Title (8 words max): Second Life: Connecting the Global Fellowship in Cyberspace. Summary (50 words max): A group of UUs have built a community that includes a worship space, meeting spaces, and a neighborhood. A presentation will introduce the Second Life “immersive” online environment, the work that has been done so far, the challenges of working in the online environment, and plans for the future. Name and Biography of Proposed Speaker(s): Eric Burch is a computer professional and a 19-year member of the UU Church of Rockville, MD. He has been an assistant treasurer since 1989, as well as serving on a few church committees. He is a Second Life “resident” and has helped run the Second Life fellowship since January 2007. Cathy Lilly is a retired professor of mathematics and college dean who has been a member of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence since 1992, where she has been a member of the Board of Trustees, as well as many church committees. She is a Red Cross Disaster Team volunteer, president of a non-profit low-income housing development agency, secretary of the Interfaith Help Fund, and sings with a social action group, the Raging Grannies. Since July of 2007, she has been a “resident” in Second Life and has affiliated with the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life. The members of the not-yet-UUA-recognized fellowship in Second Life, who include many UUs, UU seminarians and ministers, and UUA staff, have contributed and will help produce this program. Some will attend GA, and others not at GA will be available in Second Life to guide attendees who use the system during GA. Grant amount: (if applicable) The A/V microphone/screen fee. The presenters are planning on attending GA as delegates of their congregations so no extra travel and attendance costs are requested. But the A/V fee is extraordinary, so we request for reimbursement of this fee. Thank you! Scheduling Preference: Thursday or Friday, though if times only on the weekend are available, that will be acceptable.

Describe the individuals planning the proposed program: Eric Burch is a “resident” of Second Life; a member of the fellowship in Second Life, where I have helped plan some of the activities in the church, and have led a few services and salons (informal, scheduled discussion sessions). My avatar, Eatoin Barcelona, the Second Life representation of myself, facilitated the first Water Ceremony in Second Life, which was written up as a event of note for that week in a Second Life online publication, New World Notes (http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2007/09/riks-picks-fo-1.html ). I will attend in 2008 as a delegate from the Rockville church at my first GA.

Cathy Lilly, though her avatar Sofia Freenote, is a “resident” in Second Life and has affiliated with the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life. She regularly attends services at the fellowship’s sanctuary. The 2008 GA will be her first.

Describe your request:

A group of UUs have built a community in the computer environment Second Life that includes a worship space with regularly scheduled services at American- and European-friendly times, meeting spaces with Small Group Ministry and other group meetings, and a neighborhood of UUs who have built residences in Second Life near each other. UUs and potential UUs from all over the world meet and worship and laugh and cry in our community.

A presentation will introduce the Second Life online environment, the work that has been done so far, challenges experienced, and plans for the future by the UUs in Second Life. Surprising worldwide connections have been made: UU and potential UU, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Humanist, and Atheist. Committees have been formed (another UU tradition!), people have volunteered to work on activities at the church, and money has been donated. There have been a few challenges of working in the online environment and we also have plans for the future, and these will be described. There will be a question-and-answer period.

We will discuss the use of this new technology as an effective outreach tool. In Second Life, we have participants who are unchurched in real life and have subsequently attended a local church. We have many non-USA members, notably a group of French Unitarians (http://unehistoiredeu.superforum.fr/ ). Other European Unitarians and Universalists are members of the fellowship, connected together through our Common Threads.

Many members of the fellowship feel that this tool is an effective and inexpensive method to spread our Unitarian Universalist message to people across the continent and around the world. We feel that many GA attendees may have heard of this new frontier of cyberspace in the popular media, and will want to see how a group of UUs are using this new medium today. Today there are several religious denominations that formally sponsor outreach activities within Second Life, and we would like to see the UUA participate in this new mode of outreach.

The presentation will be using PowerPoint; Eric will provide the laptop and projector. Questions and answers, and maybe a demonstration will be performed if internet connectivity can be arranged. Plans can be made to meet in the cybercafé (and possibly a hotel room) and Second Life will be demonstrated. It is assumed that electrical power, a microphone, sound amplification, and a projection screen will be provided by the GA logistics staff.

One plan the fellowship has is affiliation with the Church of the Larger Fellowship or Church of the Younger Fellowship; there has been some conversations with CYF. We are also looking at affiliation with an existing UU church. Affiliation with CLF or CYF will facilitate certain transactions with Second Life management, and more effectively promote Unitarian Universalism within Second Life. (We plan on talking with CLF and CYF representatives at GA.)

The presentation can be tailored to a 60 or 90 minute presentation slot. Hours of material are available—it’s a matter of cutting to fit the time available. A Q&A time is planned.

This will be presented at a “Wonderful Wendesday” session at the UU Church of Rockville in the spring.

Other Supporting Material.

Other publications that have explored our UU congregation in Second Life include the UU World magazine (online at http://www.uuworld.org/life/articles/16206.shtml , in print in the Fall 2007 issue reprinted at http://www.uuworld.org/life/articles/35844.shtml ), and other New World Notes ( http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2007/02/bizarre_berry_a.html ). Even USA Today, where the print edition had a picture of the Second Life sanctuary and the article mentioning the UU church ( http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2007-04-01-second-life-religion_N.htm ).

A video featuring the church was produced by Ohio State University and is available on iTunes (http://www.itunes.com, search for “WOSU Viewpoint”, and select “Virtual Worlds” for a free download). George Byrd, builder of the Lovelace sanctuary and interviewed in the WOSU program, produced a video showing the first Second Life sanctuary in use, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx5ZuR4WxpA

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