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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.