Updated: Jul 1, 2022
Simon Werrett has just graduated from with a PG Diploma in Digital Theology. He achieved remarkably good marks and his dissertation on VR baptism was given a first class mark and recommended for publication.
He tells us here about his journey from DCI to Digital Ministry.
1. Tell us something about yourself
I am currently the Digital Lead for Coffee Shop Sunday (a major Methodist Project which grew from 50 members to over 750 during the lockdown with 80% active engagement recently). I also partner in VR (virtual reality) with Lakeland Community Church, Wisconsin. For 21 years, I was minister for an Evangelical Church in Essex but stepped back in 2021 to concentrate on my studies and God’s call to digital ministry. My work background is in policing but retired in 2016 as a DCI on Major Crime.
2. Digital native - resident - visitor - exile?
I would describe myself as a ‘digital resident’, but I studied computers at school, although it was using ‘punch cards’. I have always been an early adaptor of tech from Amstrad to Apple, but never studied the theory behind the activity or considered the implications of technology in the Bible or for my faith.
3. Why did you want to learn more about digital church?
I started the course in January 2021 and was searching for an area to study I was interested in, but had limited knowledge. It also need to be practically related to my ministry which then was church based. Although an active social media user prior to the pandemic, due to lockdown Zoom became the norm for our church meetings. I wanted to know more about the impact this was having on the wider church to enhance my own ministry.
4. Were you intimidated by a “postgrad/masters” course?
No – but I have studied at this level several times before.
5. Did you find your digital ministry grew in the pandemic and was this good experience?
My digital ministry expanded during the pandemic, but this was often misunderstood by a digitally naïve congregation, who accepted Zoom as a pandemic necessity, but it was not the same ‘as real church.’ I enjoyed the opportunity to enhance different styles of worship and meeting new similarly focused people. Through the course I linked up with Coffee Shop Sunday and became involved in their digital work.
6. What did you learn during the course?
I was introduced to the concept of church in Virtual Reality in the metaverse, which became the focus of most of my assignments and research. Having purchased a VR headset I was able to join several different VR churches and engage with people from all over the world.
The reading material was very varied and challenging looking at areas like cyborgs, biblical literature, mission and authority from different angles.
My dissertation explored whether the baptising of an avatar in virtual reality is theologically effective for the person operating the avatar. (Ed: "He thinks it is.")
7. Would you recommend the course?
YES – even if someone wanted to start at the certificate level and work up, it’s a great opportunity to learn both practical and theoretical ideas at the same time.
Pete and Jonas are great lecturers, who put considerable effort into the course, but also arrange a variety of top academics from across the world to provide input on their areas of expertise – a definite advantage of technology.
Although Spurgeon’s is a Baptist College the students on this course came from a variety of church backgrounds and this enhanced the course for me, the opportunity to consider different ways of worshipping and engaging with the same God
Here's a brief video of Fiona Fidgin's reaction to taking the course:
We'll be holding a taster session for those interested in joining the group of new students in September: SIGN UP HERE