What is outdoor worship?
Outdoor worship is all about discovering more of the wonder of God through the natural world that he has created and using what we find as a way in to worshipping God the creator.
In God we live and move and have our being” – Acts 17:28
God is present in all creation and therefore the creation can be a means of engaging with God.
Many groups involved in outdoor worship have roots in the long Christian tradition of engagement in nature, such as the Celtic and Franciscan approaches. It is often experimental, permissive, creative and comes in loads of flavours – meditation, liturgy, ritual, sharing, artistic expressions and many others. Often food and a fire are involved.
It is a place where people can gather who feel spiritually more at home outside than in a church building. It isn’t about worshipping creation and it isn’t about just moving the services outside that we would normally hold in church.
Who’s it for?
Anyone, any age.
Where can it happen?
Anywhere in a natural environment. The churchyard, woods, gardens, parks, fields, by the river, the seashore, and so on. The land can be public or private, but if it is private remember to get permission first.
When can it happen?
Any day, any time depending on what the focus for the event is. Regardless of the weather – God made the rain as well as the sunshine! Some groups meet regularly every month or two and some follow the eight-fold agricultural year because the two solstices and two equinoxes and the four quarters that fit between them offer us little snapshots about how the land is changing and help us to connect to it.
There’s a lot of practicalities to think about if you’re considering setting up a group. Some of the resources will help.
Local groups come with a number of different labels - Forest Church, Wild Church and Mossy Church are just some of them. There is only one group in Suffolk at the moment the Rising Hope Forest Church (Sudbury).
Forest Church website | Weblink
Church of England website | Weblink
Muddy Church | Weblink
Engage Worship | Weblink
Forest Church Facebook group | Weblink
There are a number of books on worshipping outdoors:
Forest Church: A Field Guide to Nature Connection For Groups and Individuals by Bruce Stanley
Books by Rachel Summers: Wild Worship, Discovering God Through Creation, Wild Advent and Wild Lent
Landscape Liturgies: Outdoor worship resources from the Christian tradition by Nick Mayhew-Smith
Creative Ideas for Wild Church: Taking All-Age Worship and Learning Outdoors by Juno Hollyhock and Mary Jackson
The Earth Cries Glory: Daily Prayer with Creation by Steven Shakespeare.