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Lovers of the Land

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Lovers of the Land
 21 North American Wild Churches
 Presented by AllCreation.org
 April 2019

Created & Edited by Chris Searles
 Ed., AllCreation.org
 Exec. Dir., BioIntegrity.net


Lovers of the Land

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Woodland Worship

Burning Bush Forest Church


Lovers of the Land

Ojai Church of the Wild

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Lovers of the Land

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Contents




Self-composed vignettes and photo galleries from 21 Christian-based congregations across North America, all worshipping outdoors. We are thrilled to celebrate Earth Month 2019 with the release of this special book. Thanks to Victoria Loorz, each of the participants, and everyone at the Wild Church Network (WildChurchNetwork.com) for being great partners in bringing this together.

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Woodland Worship Wild Church West Virginia Wild Church B.C. Three Rivers Forest Church Sinsinawa Mound Shenandoah Valley Church of Wild Salal + Cedar Rewild Church Ojai Church of the Wild New Life Lutheran Church The Land Integral Church Green Life Church Ferncliff Center Church of the Woods Church of the Wild DC Church of the Sacred Wild Church of Lost Walls Cathedral of the Trees Burning Bush Forest Church Bellingham Wild Church


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 What does it mean to worship … outside? This book celebrates Earth Day 2019 by showcasing Christian-based congregations across North America who meet regularly to worship outdoors. Lovers of the Land is representative of an emerging phenomenon: Christians seeking greater relationship with the living world they can see, feel, hear, taste, smell, touch, breathe, drink, nurture, and be nurtured by. “We gather to expand relationship within the sacred wilds 
 of this community, learn from the vast intelligence of these 
 beautiful beings, and live more deeply into our own soul 
 for the wholing and healing of the world.”  — Rev. Valerie Luna Serrels, Shenandoah Valley Church of the Wild

“It was in the midst of Good Friday, however, that we discovered 
 ourselves as an Easter People and encountered the God of Life.” — Edward Sloan, Campus Minister, Villanova University

“…For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” — Genesis 3:19, New Living Translation


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 Woodland Worship
 Wilmington, Delaware Woodland Worship: A Wild Church Experience offers a contemplative opportunity for participants to commune with the Creator in the beauty of nature. We gather the 4th Saturday of the month in a quiet wooded park area – originally inhabited by the Lenni Lanape peoples – where the trees and the birds welcome us and embrace us. We begin with an invitation to breathe deeply becoming aware of the Presence of the Holy and some meditative music. I usually play my Native American Flute. A reading from Scripture and often a quote or a poem that directs our attention to the witness of Creation is shared and then everyone is invited to spend fifteen or twenty minutes on their own communing with God and nature. We gather again to the sound of the flute song and are invited to share significant insights or experiences that have spoken to our souls. We end with a non-liturgical sharing of Holy Communion. Folk often linger in the beauty of the space. — Karen Covey Moore, D.Min. Visit: 
 Karen Covey Moore
 Woodland Worship on Facebook


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Woodland Worship
 Wilmington, Delaware


Lovers of the Land

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Wild Church West Virginia, 
 Villanova Campus Ministry
 West Virginia & Pennsylvania “Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil.”
 Matthew 13: 5 Do we only love the land when it is uncomplicated? A friend and I co-founded Wild Church West Virginia in Wheeling, WV, to worship on the streets of postindustrial urban environments and near polluted waterways or coal mines. Our practice of re-wilding gave a preferential option for places that are hard to love and where God seemed to be as dead as the landscape. It was in the midst of Good Friday, however, that we discovered ourselves as an Easter People and encountered the God of Life. In my new position as a Campus Minister at Villanova University, I have been asking how I can invite students and others to re- wild. My students inhabit a culture of excess, accustomed to disposability in so many ways, so a colleague in the Sustainability department and I organized a Plastic Fast for Lent this year. Plastics, the detritus of consumerism, turn once nourishing habitats into toxic landscapes. We have organized a series of events, prayer experiences, and workshops. A true love of the land cannot limit itself to selecting only those parts that are easy to love, but in moments of sickness and death, of beautiful brokenness, do we truly come to know and love our Common Home. In these moments we become a people of resurrection. Our creeds must say “I believe in the Mountain Top Removal Site, I believe in the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, I believe in those people, places, and morethan-human beings who have died before their time. And I believe they can live again.” As I get to know my new place, I hope to create a new community of worship with others who seek the same. If you are interested in re-wilding together please reach out! — Edward Sloane, Minister

Visit:
 Wild Church West Virginia
 Villanova Campus Ministry


Lovers of the Land

Wild Church West Virginia Villanova Campus Ministry

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Lovers of the Land

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Wild Church, B.C.
 Kamloops, British Columbia Wild Church BC is a seedling offered monthly through the United Church of Canada to the community in Kamloops, BC (Canada). The Christian story starts in a garden with humanity in conversation with the Holy One. Somewhere far down that luxurious path through the woods, structures began to be built and “church” became walled in. Wild Church is our attempt to return to the natural world to find connection with God, Source, Creator, whatever you name that which is bigger than we are. We meet in “the wild” – in local urban and rural wild spaces – to explore and experience the spiritual and the sacred. We believe all of Creator’s wisdom is available to us through creation, so we sit on the land to observe and to listen. We close our gatherings by sitting in circle to witness one another’s experiences. In our sharing, we hear both the wisdom of the land and of one another. Our greatest hope is that we will build a community that learns to love the land and to consciously care for it and be in partnership with it. We recognize that being active on the land is important for many, so we also offer Wild Pilgrimage monthly, land-based activities to explore “wilder” places. — Rev. LeAnn Blackert Visit: 
 WildChurchBC.org
 Facebook.com/WildChurchBC


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Wild Church, B.C.
 Kamloops, British Columbia


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 Three Rivers Forest Church
 Richmond Hill, Ontario Meeting in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, on the Oak Ridges Moraine, Three Rivers Forest Church takes its name from the Don, Humber, and Rouge Rivers which make up the main watershed of of Metro Toronto. Naming this wild church after these rivers was a way to highlight the importance of protecting this significant source of the regions water. The leaders of Three Rivers Forest Church craft services that are not just church outside but are intended to help participants experience the divine in nature. Events range from outdoor activities such as meditation walks, outdoor labyrinth experiences, or a hike along a forest trail to more ritual based prayer experiences inspired by early Celtic practices, for example a guided meditation for Samhain or a feast for the Summer Solstice. Given our Canadian climate, in colder months events may happen inside, perhaps with a teaching or discussion on an ecology-related topic. Even then we like to spend some of our time together outside. Rooted in Christian spirituality, this wild church is open to people of all beliefs.

— James Ravenscroft, minister Visit: 
 Facebook.com/3RiversForestChurch
 Three Rivers' home church, Richmond Hill United


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Three Rivers Forest Church
 Richmond Hill, Ontario


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 Sinsinawa Mound
 Sinsinawa, Wisconsin Our ministry lays at the intersection of environmental stewardship, cultural renewal, and a contemplative ecology. Situated in the unique geological “driftless” bioregion of southwest Wisconsin close to the Mississippi River, we offer seasonal ritual and celebrations, as well as eco-spirituality retreats, agricultural workshops, and nature experiences with youth that we call “No Child Left Inside.” You can find a list of our events at sinsinawa.org/moundcenter. Facilitator: Eric Anglada, Lay Leader and Catholic Worker Farmer. — Eric Anglada, lay leader Visit: 
 Sinsinawa.org/MoundCenter
 Facebook.com/MoundCenter


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Sinsinawa Mound
 Sinsinawa, Wisconsin


Lovers of the Land

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Shenandoah Valley Church of the Wild
 Harrisonburg, Virginia Shenandoah Valley Church of the Wild meets in the George Washington National Forest on Hone Quarry Run on traditional lands of the Petun People and the Shanantoa or Senandoa People and the Iroquois Confederacy, among others. We gather in community with trees, shrubs, flowing waters, stones and fourleggeds, multiple-leggeds, winged and finned ones, to re-member ourselves as interconnected with these animate and inspirited ones. We gather to expand relationship within the sacred wilds of this community, learn from the vast intelligence of these beautiful beings, and live more deeply into our own soul for the wholing and healing of the world. We gather to celebrate, mourn, listen, share, acknowledge, deepen, love the diversity of the beings in this ecosystem, including each other, and our own truest Self. And experience this as loving and celebrating God. — Rev. Valerie Luna Serrels Visit: 
 ChurchOfTheWildShenValley.com
 Facebook.com/SVChurchoftheWild


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Shenandoah Valley Church of the Wild
 Harrisonburg, Virginia


Lovers of the Land

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 Salal + Cedar
 Vancouver, British Columbia We practice contemplative ecology, meeting for worship outdoors year round rain or shine at locations around our watershed. We meet for worship on the late afternoon or early evening of the first Saturday of the month and once a month at another time mid-day, mid-week. Through outdoor worship, we seek transformative encounters with the species and geography of the Fraser River to Salish Sea basin and the wider Cascadia bioregion; we explore wilderness, sustainability, and justice themes in Christian scriptures and Anglican social teaching; and we learn about our roots and roles individuals and as a church, in the multi-racial, labour and Indigenous-Settler history of lower-mainland British Columbia. — Rev. Laurel Dykstra Visit: 
 SalalAndCedar.com
 Facebook.com/salalandcedar


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Salal + Cedar
 Vancouver, British Columbia


Lovers of the Land

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Rewild Church
 Pittstown, New Jersey At Rewild Church, we strive to create a more peaceful world as we seek to meet the Creator through the creation. By worshipping in nature rather than in a building, we reawaken our connection to the ever-present mystery that surrounds us — for God is everywhere present and fills all things. When we spend time worshipping in nature, our senses become renewed and refreshed. The more time we spend in nature, and the more time we have contact with the earth, the more we begin to fully realize the communion of all creation. It is then that we can begin to fulfill our God-given role of being Nature’s Priest. Since humans are a microcosm of creation – we contain all of the cosmos within us. As God’s divine image upon the earth, we are called to compose and conduct a divine hymn of praise to the Creator in concert with the creation. The earth and all its creatures find their voice and sing their praises to God through the children of God; this is a heavy and solemn responsibility which mankind has historically ignored. This is the spirit of worship, sacrifice, and servant-hood that we seek to reawaken in humanity at Rewild Church. And it is why we gather for worship outside of buildings, and invite all living beings to worship God along with us and through us — in the Holy Wild. — Chaplain Vas Avramidis Visit: 
 RewildChurch.com
 Facebook.com/RewildChurch


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Rewild Church
 Pittstown, New Jersey


Lovers of the Land

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Ojai Church of the Wild Ojai, California Ojai Church of the Wild’s “home base” is a huge, ancient Grandfather Oak, whose canopy provides a secluded sanctuary for our gathering. From there we can wander to explore and interact with the life of the watershed. We have witnessed drought, fire, regrowth, and now abundant rainfall - a living representation of life, death, and resurrection that invites contemplation and awakens understanding. Chumash elder, Julie Tummamait, provides spiritual leadership for the congregation, integrating her ancestral intimacy with the land with spiritual practices that encourage reconnection with the Sacred in all things. — Joann Yabrof, church leader, and
 Rev. Victoria Loorz, founding pastor
 Visit: 
 ChurchoftheWild.com
 Facebook.com/ChurchoftheWild


Lovers of the Land

Ojai Church of the Wild Ojai, California

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Lovers of the Land

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 New Life Lutheran Church
 Dripping Springs, Texas At New Life Lutheran Church, in Dripping Springs, Texas, we worship on a hill topped with century-old oak trees, with picnic tables, folding chairs, and an old horse trough for an altar. We see juniper trees, the wild grape vines from which we make our communion wine, and native bunch grasses that help recharge the aquifers below us. Deer and roadrunners often walk by during our worship services, and birds almost always join in our songs. Sometimes the wind is gentle, and sometimes challenging enough to remind us that the Holy Spirit, like wild spaces, is not tame. Worshiping outdoors is an experience of joy and an exercise of humility - we are not in control here. Every week, though, we fall in love with the Texas Hill Country all over again, and stand in awe of God’s creation. We are in the Colorado River watershed, above the Hays-Trinity and Edwards aquifers. We worship on the ancestral land of the Tonkawa people. On the 12-acres on which we worship, we have a prayer labyrinth, stations-of-the-cross walking trails, a bird blind which collects rainwater, a tent to be under in the rain, and no buildings. We plant vegetables in our community garden for our neighbors, and we plant trees and wildflowers to re-wild this former ranchland and re-introduce more biodiversity. We worship outside because we feel close to God in the natural world, and we want to share this beautiful and sacred place with others. — Rev. Carmen Retzlaff Visit: 
 NewLifeDrippingSprings.org
 New Life Lutheran's Facebook page New Life Lutheran's Instagram

Ojai Church of the Wild Ojai, California


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New Life Lutheran Church
 Dripping Springs, Texas


Lovers of the Land

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The Land
 Aurora, Colorado The Land is a 501(c)3 located in Aurora, Colorado established with a purpose “to serve as a community gathering place for people to grow, harvest, and share fresh, local produce with our neighbors in need." The Land hosts an outdoor spiritual gathering every Saturday at 10:00 am for anyone seeking a place to connect with others in nature. Dogs are always welcome! Currently, our property features a 20x20 canopy tent, a Little Free Library, Small Dog Park, Nature Walk, and Composting Station. The Land has received approval from the City of Aurora for the Civil Plans and anticipates beginning physical development of the site as soon as Spring of 2019. — Rev. Stephanie L. Price Visit: 
 TheLandAurora.org
 Facebook.com/LandAurora


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The Land
 Aurora, Colorado


Lovers of the Land

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Integral Church
 St. Petersburg, Florida Integral Church is a network of communities interested in a religion of the future — one that embraces both science and spirit, history and mythology, contemplation and practice. Join one of our circles (in the US or Europe, indoors or outdoors) and plug in to a community of diverse and intergenerational bridge-builders committed to serving their community, deepening their spiritual practice and exploring the space between. *** Warning *** Integral Church may cause thoughts of awe, wonder, curiosity, reverence, creativity, equality, religious pluralism, multiculturalism as well as overall metanoia. For more information, visit www.integralchurch.org. — Joran Slane Oppelt, founder Visit: 
 IntegralChurch.org
 Facebook.com/IntegralChurch


Lovers of the Land

Integral Church
 St. Petersburg, Florida

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Lovers of the Land

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Green Life Church
 Kansas City, Missouri Green Life Church is a progressive, inclusive, holistic community living out the gospel of Jesus Christ through health and wellness, peace and justice, and environmental sustainability. Worship, programs, and other church activities are offered outdoors and at existing venues to maintain a low carbon footprint and in accordance with guidelines for green events. Outdoor worship and spiritual discussions are held at a wheelchair-accessible city park from May through September. Organic gluten-free communion elements are served during worship, with unconsumed elements respectfully returned to nature in a Creation Communion Ritual. Additional outdoor worship events are held as weather permits for Holy Week, Easter, Earth Stewardship Sunday, and other occasions. Season of Creation is observed during September worship services. Reverence for both Creator and Creation is articulated in liturgy and in practice. Missional outreach programs/projects include Bible-based study series and games; Eco-Fest Watershed Protection Exhibits based on Psalm 23; Drawdown Workshops based on the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming; Dimensions of Wellness Classes; Mindfulness Mondays; and Back-toSchool Supplies Giveaways. — Rev. Helen Nelson Visit: 
 GreenLifeChurch.org
 Facebook.com/GreenLifeChurch


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Green Life Church
 Kansas City, Missouri


Lovers of the Land

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Ferncliff Camp & Conference Center
 Little Rock, Arkansas We operate a growing, 1,200 acre camp/conference center just outside Little Rock. We work at being Green, Entrepreneurial and Missional. A significant event in our journey was starting a Nature Preschool 3 years ago. We have 50 families involved. We surveyed those families and 80% expressed an interest in some kind of worshiping community based in nature, similar to our preschool. We wrote a start up grant application to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and are on track to receive approval and funding. Our group has only met for planning purposes. We've not yet had a worshipful gathering. The Wild Church Network gathering in June will be helpful to learn from others and meet colleagues in ministry. — Rev. David Gill, co-founder Visit: 
 Ferncliff.org
 Facebook.com/FernCliffCamp


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Ferncliff Center
 Little Rock, Arkansas


Lovers of the Land

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Church of the Woods
 Canterbury, New Hampshire Church of the Woods gathers weekly on 106 acres of woods and wetlands, in Canterbury, New Hampshire. When we began, in 2014, this land had been trashed by people who cut and carried away trees without a care for the forest. Through physical restoration and prayer (or spiritual restoration), the people who come now are restoring the forest to health, beauty, and peace. As Fred, a new member of Church of the Woods, said one day, “This is a healing place.” Fred didn’t know about how people have been healing the land, but he knew through his own experience about how the land, along with the people, heals us. Jesus was a healer. We seek to follow this way, as healers for the land, for each other, and for the world. — Rev. Stephen Blackmer Visit: 
 Church of the Woods website Church of the Woods' Facebook page


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Church of the Woods
 Canterbury, New Hampshire


Lovers of the Land

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Church of the Wild DC Washington, DC Coming from many faith traditions, Church of the Wild gathers monthly in the Metro DC area to honor the mutual indwelling of the Divine with the Earth and all of its beings, remembering our sacred interconnection and interdependence through contemplative spiritual practices, music and wanderings. As participants in the web of creation, we seek to be attentive to the Holy in our midst and invite one another to come home to the sacred ecological ground in which we live. This groundedness guides us to live from a place of deeper compassion, care and gratitude for all living things. When we love deeply, we are compelled to transform our lives, our culture, our economics, our politics and our religions to live in health and harmony with our earth home. — Rev. Sarah Anders Visit: 
 Church of the Wild website
 Facebook.com/CenterforSpiritualityInNature


Lovers of the Land

Church of the Wild Washington, D.C.

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Lovers of the Land

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Church of the Sacred Wild Topanga State Park, California "Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." -- Rachel Carson At the heart of our experiential service is the practice of engaged reverence for and communion with the sacred nature of nature. We cultivate a mutually healing relationship with the beauties and mysteries of the wild by attentive listening to, gentle gazing upon, and sacramental exploration of natural landscape and then sharing our individual reflections together as a group. We meet on the second Sunday of every month from 10:30 am to 12 pm near the Nature Center at Topanga State Park, and you are welcome to join us. Please contact me directly for directions to the specific location of our worship service at quentindunne@gmail.com. — Quentin Dunne, lay leader Visit: NatureTherapyHeals.com


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Church of the Sacred Wild Topanga State Park, California


Lovers of the Land

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Church of Lost Walls
 Denver, Colorado Church of Lost Walls is a living expression of church seeking to journey beyond our walls into wild enchanting thresholds where nature, spirituality, and life meet in deep Conversation and sacred community for the cultivation of greater wholeness and service to the world. We seek to cultivate a re-enchanted relationship with ancient lands protected and now known as Roxborough State Park, a seam in Earth running along the Front Range separating the Ancestral Rocky Mountains from the Colorado plains. We pray with Ponderosa pine and prairie lands, standing with forests that are home to more than 145 species of birds, traversed by streams, burrow, wing, paw, and foot including the long seasonal migrations of our Ute and Arapahoe ancestors. This unique ecotone is an embodiment of 300 million year old memory and imagination of Earth crystalized in the sharp angles and revealed through the erosion of the red sandstone Fountain Formation and exposed Precambrian to Late Mesozoic hogback. This primal speech in which we participate is central to our values of seeking natural revelatory experience informing our sacred texts. We are not a traditional church happening outside, our dream is to participate in and partner with creation through learning, worship, meditation and prayer. Through nature-based practices that draw upon the wisdom of sacred narratives and older traditions, we seek to cultivate nature connection and personal wholeness to inspire one another to a culturally creative vision of life with each other and within Earth community in response to the great mystery we call God. — Rev. Matt Syrdal Visit: 
 ChurchofLostWalls.org
 Facebook.com/DenverWildChurch


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Church of Lost Walls
 Denver, Colorado


Lovers of the Land

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Cathedral of the Trees
 Bancroft, Ontario In the Cathedral of the Trees, we attune ourselves to the Sacred through the earth and her creatures. The more than human world is part of the gathered congregation. We invite people to join us to listen deeply, explore creatively, and live gratefully. Our hope is that people come and are transformed by intentional connection with the ancient and sacred rhythms of the creation of which we are a part. Together we read and study the book of Nature, which some call the Second Book of Scripture. The ancients say that to know nature is to know something of God. Our time together follows this general pattern: We gather ourselves together, attend to our arrival, share a prayer, a reading or story, and a few instructions for participating in a spiritual practice in nature which may include wandering off on your own and then regathering where you will be invited to share with each other your experiences in order to deepen them. And the more than human world is part of our gathering – always full of wisdom and surprises. Our meeting time will be approximately 1 to 2 hours which includes sharing in a light meal. We meet regardless of the weather and so ask people to dress according to conditions (we would cancel only if personal safety were at risk). And finally, children and pets welcome and important. — Rev. Svinda Heinrichs and Rev. Marilyn Zehr Visit: 
 RiseAbove470.com
 Cathedral of the Trees website
 Facebook.com/cathedral-of-the-trees


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Cathedral of the Trees
 Bancroft, Ontario


Lovers of the Land

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Burning Bush Forest Church
 Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario Burning Bush Forest Church worships in various urban forests in the Grand River Watershed, in southwestern Ontario, Canada. We are grateful to have wild places within the city, and to be able to re-member ourselves as part of the community of creation. These parks where we gather are home to a wide variety of species including beech tree and cedars, pleated woodpeckers and osprey, whitetailed deer and painted turtles, trillium and goldenrod. We worship outdoors in order to encounter God through both scripture and the book of creation, which offers insightful and challenging lessons as we pay attention to the changing seasons and cycles of life and death. — Rev. Wendy Janzen Visit: 
 BurningBushForestChurch.com
 Facebook.com/BurningBushForestChurch


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Burning Bush Forest Church
 Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario


Lovers of the Land

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Bellingham Wild Church Bellingham, Washington The Bellingham Wild Church is part of an experimental Lutheran church called Echoes that employs four pastors, each of whom lead different approaches to church. Wild Church expands the notion of beloved community beyond our species to include the creatures and trees and all the natural world as inherently valuable and sacred co-congregants. We're developing practices of sacred reciprocity for deepening relationship with the Holy, with the our watershed, with our own souls. The readings come from the first Book of Revelation imprinted in all of nature as well as the insights of mystics, poets, visionaries of our Christ tradition....and one another. We meet monthly at the edges of waterfalls, among cedars and invasive blackberries, or at the shoreline of the Salish Sea to deepen intimacy with the the more-than-human Others whose home we share and whom are both inherently worthy of our respect and mirror back to us our own sacred inner reality as well. Church is a place where Mystery is experienced, not explained. — Rev. Victoria Loorz Visit: 
 EchoesBellingham.org
 Facebook.com/echoesbellingham


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Bellingham Wild Church Bellingham, Washington


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Credits All content and photos authored by those posted. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. All of the content here attributed to its creators. AllCreation.org wants to highlight and thank again each of the writers and photographers featured.

Thanks Special thanks to AllCreation’s management team: Rev. Tom VandeStadt, Rev. Carmen Retzlaff, Rev. Dan DeLeon, Amie King; and all of the AllCreation.org team members, as well as Rev. Victoria Loorz, Rev. Matt Syrdal, and Rev. Steve Blackmer for their outstanding support and contributions. We are honored to work with each of the congregations featured here and inspired by their unique and shared ways of engaging a more connected, and more vibrant future for all ‘God’s creatures.

Learn More To learn about becoming a wild church visit the Wild Church Network, wildchurchnetwork.com. To learn more about engaging Christianity outdoors, visit Seminary of the Wild, seminaryofthewild.com. Visit AllCreation.org, allcreation.org, to explore faith and spiritual practice views on today’s biospheric challenges and relationships. Learn more about AllCreation.org: allcreation.org/about. AllCreation.org is project for the greater good produced and managed by BioIntegrity.net.

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Lovers of the Land  

AllCreation.org, an online resource for faith and spiritual practice views on today’s environmental challenges, celebrates Earth Day 2019 by...

Lovers of the Land  

AllCreation.org, an online resource for faith and spiritual practice views on today’s environmental challenges, celebrates Earth Day 2019 by...

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