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(LONDON - 29 Nov 04) -- CHURCH OF FOOLS, the UK’s first 3D online house of worship, has re-opened - as a place for private prayer and reflection.

Visitors will be able to choose a cartoon ‘double’, then walk around, kneel, pray, shout 'Hallelujah', play a hymn, even ring the church bells. However, they will not see, or be seen by, other visitors to the church.

Initially conceived as a three-month experiment, the fully interactive version of Church of Fools, was launched in May this year and ran until September.

‘Since our pilot project ended, we have continued the interactive part of the church in 2D - through conventional chat rooms and bulletin boards,’ explains project leader Simon Jenkins. ‘But the demand to re-open the 3D environment has been overwhelming. A new version of the multi-user, interactive church will be built if funding is forthcoming.’

Jenkins is hopeful that visitors will use the church for personal reflection and prayer - like Radalyn from Georgia, USA, who, during the pilot project, often left her character alone in the church at prayer while, in real life, she worked nearby.

‘Radalyn used the church as a meditative retreat, an oasis in her day,’ said Jenkins. ‘We think there’s a real need for a sacred space like this on the web. Meanwhile, we continue our search for funding for the next interactive phase of the project.’

Built my specialmoves of London, and initially conceived as a three-month experiment, the church was sponsored by the Methodist Church of Great Britain and the National Christian Resources Exhibition, where it was launched in May. The Rt Rev Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, preached at its inaugural service.

The project, developed by leading UK web magazine shipoffools.com, attracted tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world during its pilot phase - more than half of them under 30 years old and 60 per cent male.

www.churchoffools.com
www.shipoffools.com
www.specialmoves.com

* Selection of hi-res jpegs of Church of Fools can be downloaded from http://www.churchoffools.com/media/index
There is no copyright restriction on these but please credit www.shipoffools.com. For more information phone Simon Jenkins (editor, shipoffools.com) +44 (0)208 9933936 / +44 (0)7808 297146 or Stephen Goddard (co-editor, shipoffools.com) +44 (0)1744 733898 / 44 (0)7930 198209.

(ends)

Published on: 12:00AM on 8th December 2004