Forest Church is a fresh expression in nature, drawing on contemporary research that highlights the benefits of spending time with nature in wild places and much older traditions when sacred places and practices were outside.
The idea provides for a fresh way of connecting with God in nature, and local groups are springing up all over the place, including in the Diocese of Oxford.
Forest Church registered groups:
- Oxford Forest Church group
- Oakwood Forest Church group – nr Reading
- Wychwood Forest Church group – West Oxfordshire
Not yet registered groups:
- Forest Church group in Carterton – has been exploring outdoor and bushcraft skills, led by Rev. James Maddern (meet at the Metal Horses, Kilkenny Country Park, nr Shilton Park, Carterton. All welcome, no experience required). Current plans: 6th July 2014 2.30pm – 3.30pm Forest Church Communion and 20th July 2014 2.30pm – 3.30pm Forest Church Activity Party
Find out more about Forest Church – and if there is a group near you – at www.forestchurch.co.uk. There is also a lively Facebook group, as well as a book (see below) full of resources, practical advice and theory to guide you in nature connection and in setting up a group.
Forest Church: A Field Guide
The guide book, Forest Church: A Field Guide to Nature Connection For Groups and Individuals by Bruce Stanley, introduces readers to the idea of nature connection and Forest Church and provides a plenty of ideas and inspiration for anyone thinking of starting a Forest Church.
Copies of the book can be ordered for £7.95 on the Mystic Christ website.
Here’s what others have said…
Bruce Stanley’s easy to read, inspiring, practical book is written with his skills as a life coach and a naturalist to the fore. He takes spirituality beyond its traditional confines of building and doctrine to a new kind of church that is earthed in experience of the outside world and the One who made it. His refreshing, inclusive and enthusiastic approach is timely and will speak to today’s hunger for a church that can reach wider and touch deeper simply by starting with the ground we stand on.
Tess Ward, Chaplain and author of The Celtic Wheel of the Year.
I sense that ‘Forest Church’ by Bruce Stanley will become a vital textbook for many of us who long to reconnect faith, being human and the natural world. Drawing on his own extensive experience, insights from other nature-experts and the spiritual practices of those who have never forgotten our belonging to the earth, this ‘Field Guide to Nature Connection’ engagingly offers a wealth of insights, ideas and resources to enable us to participate with nature. Time to get out into the forest!
Ian Adams, author of Cave Refectory Road and Running Over Rocks.
Don’t read this book if you’re not ready to be surprised – and quite possibly delighted. Our alienation from the natural world is well documented, and Bruce Stanley offers tried and tested ways to explore the connection, whether in urban park or remote forest – with the possibility of personal renewal and even encounters with the divine.
Olive Drane is author of Spirituality to Go, Fellow of St Johns College Durham, England and Affiliate Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, California.