Author Archives: Stephanie Boucher

Walk Church: A church on the move?

Can we create church by gathering and walking in nature? This might seem an odd idea, but look at it like this: the traditional ramble can have many of the elements of traditional worship, such as gathering, sharing the word and sharing food. Ideas are still in formation but would involve: a welcome and explanation of the gathering, an introduction of the theme, prayer, a Bible reading, and then the walk.

Walks would involve some silence, asking people to be attentive to what they notice and see around them. There would also be conversation; reflecting on set questions arising from the scripture reading. A stop for break will also allow the possibility of drawing together responses and a time for prayer. If the break didn’t include the sharing of food, at the end there might be the chance of a shared meal in a pub: the communion.

Why a “Walk church”? There has been a huge growth in numbers of people meeting for rambling and we are all encouraged to take more exercise. With Sun¬day rambles, some are torn between the desire to take part in church and going for a walk.

There are also many people who are uninspired by church, but who still want to explore questions of faith and pray together with others in a natural setting.

Walk Church might also help us connect better with God? Where do people in the Bible most often encounter God? – It is outdoors. Just how often do we hear about people speaking about how they experience God in the “cathedrals of nature”.

Walk church is also about meeting the challenge of how church can better help us value our natural world. Indoors we have struggled to make the environment a theme that is exciting for our worship. We may appreciate in our heads that we have an environmental crisis, but how to respond? Wendell Berry, (writer and environmentalist) argues “We need to fall in love with the natural world again… We take care of the things which we love” (Start the Week, Radio 4, 1 May 2017).

If you are interested in helping to develop these ideas then please get in touch me, the Rev’d Alex Bienfait, by writing to I would love to hear from you.

Sabbatical Update December 2016

My sabbatical will have two foci of interest. One of those, will be to research churches where congregations meet for different types of services just once a month. The other focus will be a long visit to Sri Lanka: that is the subject of this article.

I will be re-establishing contact with a Sri Lankan Anglican priest, Keerthi Fernando, who studied at the University of Kent 15 years ago while I was vicar in Whitstable. During that time, Keerthi regularly led church services with me. He and his wife Arlene also did much with local schools and churches to promote cultural awareness of Sri Lanka. Our families had plenty of fun together on these evenings and at other times, and became good friends. Continue reading

Sabbatical update November 2016

My sabbatical will have two foci of interest. The first, and the one that will grab immediate attention, is my trip to Sri Lanka. There I will be re-establishing an old friendship with a Sri Lankan Anglican priest who studied at the University of Kent 15 years ago, while I was vicar in Whitstable. I plan to say more about the Sri Lankan angle in a future magazine.

My second focus will be to explore other churches where congregations meet for different types of services just once a month. One of the trends we have seen in church worship over the past 50 years is an increase in the variety of services on offer. This is very different from the situation in the 1960s and ’70s, when the ideal was considered to be the weekly communion service as focus of unity in the parish. Back then, the great bold vision was to bring the community together in a single service, as a symbol of the unity of the family of God.

Continue reading

Sabbatical update August 2016

Early next year I will be taking three-month sabbatical. I anticipate that my last Sunday will be 5th February, coinciding with our evening celebration of Candlemas (though I will participate in the annual wedding preparation morning on 11th February). I will be back at work on Monday 15th May.

My sabbatical will have two foci of interest. One is to travel to Sri Lanka and re-establish contact with a Sri Lankan friend and Anglican priest who studied at the University of Kent about 15 years ago, living in Whitstable when I was there as Team Vicar. My other focus will in in Britain, looking at churches where congregations gather for services which are just once a month.

In the coming months I will explain more about these two projects. Continue reading