The history of the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life (ACoSL) is documented on their website. It identifies Bill Sowers (aka SL Rocky Vallejo) of St David Episcopal Church in Topeka, KS as the founder. It also identifies their hope to gather for prayer and fellowship in the group’s November 2006 charter which stated that it is “A Christian community for those who call themselves: Anglicans, Episcopalians or members of the Church of England, Episcopal Church or any of the other bodies of believers who share the Anglican heritage.”
After the Rev. Mark Brown (aka SL Arkin Ariantho) joined the group of 15 residents in February 2007, they decided to plant a church and develop a virtual chapel (Brown, April 2008). With some resemblance to England’s Durham Cathedral, the Gothic-inspired Cathedral was constructed between March and May 2007 (Wright, April 2009). The cathedral has been continually under development and now includes everything from fully interactive synchronous (live voice and chat) worship spaces and a meditation garden to a labyrinth and Conference center. A weekly bulletin is emailed to group members and posted at the Cathedral while the notice of Services and Activities provides instruction for navigating the church’s offerings, identifies leaders for each offering, and lists the week’s activities including Compline, Bible Study, and various Worship services.
Not tied to a particular church, AoSL seeks to uphold the values of the Anglican Communion, the juridical authority for the international association of Anglican and Episcopal churches. An April 24, 2007 post states that the goal is a church that:
The same post includes a detailed explanation of core values including Scripture, the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, The Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, and The Episcopate.
Based on the four-point Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral which started as an Anglican definition of what it means to be Christian, AoSL use this statement to define their Anglican identity. Repeating a phrase from Richard Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, the core values concludes with a statement that decision-making is guided by what Anglicans and Episcopalians commonly call “The three legged stool:” Scripture, Tradition and Reason.
The Rev. Mark Brown was appointed by his bishop to serve the community from before his diaconal ordination and licensure in Wellington, NZ, on November 17, 2007, through priestly ordination and assignment as the Cathedral’s priest-in-charge on November 22, 2008 until his resignation from in July 2009. AoSL blog accounts identify ongoing conversations about the limits of virtual church with the Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Brown (Wellington, NZ), the Rt. Rev. Christopher Hill (Guildford, UK), and Rupert Bursell (Ecclesiastical Law Society). There does not seem to be any question that fellowship, education, formation, prayer and worship can occur in virtual spaces. ACoSL is testing the limits of whether or not and how sacramental life can be shared.