Forest Church is a new expression of church which some across the diocese including Bishop Nick were introduced in Harrogate’s Valley Gardens at the 'Day Out' in June.
This October, for those who want to find out more, there will be a one day introduction to Forest Church taking place in Skipton on October 23rd with Bruce Stanley of Mid Wales Forest Church.
Forest Church began in the late spring of 2012 with a small group in mid Wales. Since then thirteen groups have started in the UK and the idea is taking hold elsewhere. People are attracted for a variety of reasons from developing their wellbeing to connecting with others on other spiritual paths. Nature connection, environmentalism, conservation, fitness and earth-based spirituality are also in the mix depending on which group you visit.
Andy Ryland, Rural Officer, explains more: "One thing in common with all Forest Church groups is that they are not a fellowship group doing an outside activity. They are attempting something more radical – to connect and participate with God’s creation.
"Most people’s transcendent moments happen not during religious services but in the great outdoors. Scripture suggests that ‘nature’ is not just a nice place to go on holiday, as Divine creation it describes God’s qualities and powers; nature tells us about God and God can speak through nature – and there is much we can learn and discover about our ourselves through direct connection with nature."
Andy, who is helping to organise the day says it will be both an opportunity to experience this connection and learn about the rationale behind Forest Church, how it is structured and facilitated. "During this experiential workshop we will be out and about as much as possible. You’ll need to be able to walk moderate distances and not mind rediscovering your inner child!"
Those who take part should bring appropriate clothing and footwear, something to sit on if the ground is wet, a notebook, drinking water and a cup or mug, a scarf or similar to use as a blindfold – and your own food. Also come with an attitude of experimentation, playfulness and readiness to participate with nature.