THE FIRST TIME D. J. Soto strapped on an Oculus Rift, he felt like the ancient prophets must have felt—arriving in the promised land.
It was a summer Friday in 2016, and the virtual world he was visiting, AltSpaceVR, was just a year old. Billing itself as a free social network in virtual reality, AltSpaceVR allows its users to toggle between 2-D and 3-D, using a virtual-reality headset or a computer monitor to explore the space. When Soto entered, he found a virtual world that was practically empty: just a few avatars attending quiz shows or cheesy comedy performances. Still, the young preacher was electrified.
In the months since he’d quit his job as a pastor at a branch of his local megachurch, Soto had been looking for a way to create a radically inclusive church.