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A YouTuber documented a real-life pastor giving a virtual baptism to an anime girl avatar.
The experience was made possible through a platform for “creating and sharing virtual worlds” called VRChat.
The YouTuber known as Syrmor started their channel in 2017. Syrmor typically uploads videos of people they’ve met through VRChat. If you can get past the anime or animal avatars, you will come to find that these conversations are full of intimate details of people’s lived experiences–including abusive relationships and homelessness.
Enter DJ Soto, a real-life Christian pastor who’s made a name for himself by establishing a virtual church community through VRChat.
In the video, Soto performs a virtual baptism on Syrmor’s friend, another VRChat user named Drumsy, who appears in the virtual world as a pink-haired anime girl. The other friend in the video, CmdrCharles, appears as Winnie the Pooh.
Before the baptism begins, Syrmor and his companions take some time to get to know more about Soto and his VR church community. Soto highlights the importance of virtual spaces for the disabled or other marginalized communities.
He describes a woman with a medical condition that restricts her to her home who began crying after receiving a virtual baptism “because she never thought she’d have that opportunity.”
Soto describes another woman in a wheelchair, who comes to VR church since her mobility is impaired. Soto says a real-world church group told the woman that she is wheelchair-bound because of a lack of faith. Soto also mentions a recovering drug addict who was kicked out of a local church for his appearance.
“Your relationship can be more authentic because there’s a sense of anonymity that we have,” Soto says. “With that anonymity comes authenticity. We can just be real authentic with each other. There’s no judgment, race, color, weight. We’re just human beings talking to each other.”
Drumsy crouches in a pool to complete the baptism, and afterward, all the avatar companions watching cheer in support.
The baptism starts about seven minutes in, but the full video is a moving experience.
In the past, VRChat users had to helplessly watch as one of their friends experienced a seizure. It also spawned the infamous and pretty racist Ugandan Knuckles meme. The trollish behavior usually seen in VRChat is countered by this humane moment.
You can also check out the baptism from the Drumsy’s perspective below.
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Joseph Knoop is a gaming writer for Daily Dot, a native Chicagoan, and a slave to all things Overwatch. He co-founded the college geek culture outlet ByteBSU, then interned at Game Informer, and now writes for a bunch websites his parents have never heard of.