Worship in the woods

Published on: 20 May 2021

Worshipping outdoors isn’t something new.

It might be labelled as a Fresh Expression, but it has its roots in the long tradition of Christian spirituality. Forest Church is the contemporary movement founded in 2012 and offshoots from this have been created.

Amazed that I could combine my skills in outdoor education and forest bathing with spirituality I created ‘Worship in the Woods’ with the chaplaincy team, in my day job as military chaplaincy families worker. Last year, in my final year of Reader training I was encouraged to look where my ministry might take me and Wild Church Norfolk sprouted. Ironically it was the lockdown that was the launch pad!

I have been online for nearly a year and have been trialling various things – guided meditations, reflections and natural craft to encourage people to get outdoors in their own time, in addition to bringing the outdoors in for those locked down and shielding.

Worship in the Woods has a mixture of activities, from reflecting on scriptural themes linked to creation, to going on mini-beast hunts, to wild walks followed by time to share our encounters. It’s usual to end with a fire pit, hot drinks and food!

If you are inspired to offer something in your space I want to encourage you to start where you are with what you have. There isn’t a prescribed model – all you need is a few people and some nature. There are churches offering outdoor worship that follow their messy church structure, others offer a more contemplative atmosphere and another themed around wild play. Go Wild!

I am part of the Mission Enablers team and we have created the Wild Church Hub (East Anglia) to gather local practitioners to share their gifts and passion concerning Christian spirituality, church and mission in the natural world. If you would appreciate some help to explore how you could set up a Wild Church or have any questions then please do get in touch with me – I would love to hear from you – on 07581 408847 or at jvyqpuhepuabesbyx@tznvy.pbz or Wild Church Hub East Anglia (Facebook page).

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