Easter and Earth Day arrive on successive days this year, and some churches are welcoming the coupling.
Among them are the 100 or so churches that are part of the Wild Church Network, a loose circle of Christian congregations that meet outdoors as a way of fostering a deeper relationship with God through nature.
The three-year-old network was founded by Victoria Loorz,a graduate of the evangelical nondenominational Fuller Theological Seminary and an environmental activist. Loorz, 57, now leads Echoes Church in Bellingham, Wash., which this year will host an Easter Walk starting at Bellingham City Hall and ending at the Maritime Heritage Park.
The Wild Church Network includes pastors from the Episcopal, Catholic, Lutheran and nondenominational traditions who feel, according to its website, “burdened by the love of Christ to invite people into direct relationship with some of the most vulnerable victims of our destructive culture: our land, our waters, the creatures with whom we share our homes.”
The network’s churches are spread out across the U.S. and Canada — from Vancouver, British Columbia, to St. Petersburg, Fla. In June, its members will meet together for the first time, and Loorz is now birthing a Seminary of the Wild to train people who would like to start outdoor churches.
This month, the network published an eBook, “Lovers of the Land: 21 North American Wild Churches,”that tells how these congregations strive to commune more deeply with creation. Among them is Church of the Woods in Canterbury, N.H., created in 2014 by Stephen Blackmer, an Episcopal priest.
“Jesus was a healer,” Blackmer wrote. “We seek to follow his way, as healers for the land, for each other and for the world.”
RNS caught up with Loorz to ask her about the movement she helped start. The interview was edited for length and clarity.
Tell me about the book. Who is it intended for?
It came from an inner call to create spiritual practices and reconnect with the natural world as a spiritual practice. As a culture, we’re so disconnected. It has implications and consequences for the desecration of the earth, as well as our own humanity. There’s something we are missing by being disconnected and not being able to know how to listen to the land anymore and be in sacred relationship with it. This book is intended to give people inspiration to do it themselves.
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Source: Religion News Service