On Sunday afternoon, we had our first Forest Church. With it, we wanted to connect to nature in a different way, and celebrate creation and remember our own responsibility of stewardship and looking after our beautiful world.
We had hoped to have a Forest Church for a while, and it was great to be invited to have our first one as part of the celebrations for the fifth anniversary of the Gifford community woodland, alongside other activities like Forest School, volunteering opportunities, and charcoal drawing sessions.
We had a great turnout, from ages 2 to 80+. We started with a walk to our reflection site, using our senses on the way, to see what we could see, feel, smell and hear. We shared prayers and reflected on the beauty and fragility of the world, and what we can do to protect it.
We also were creative in appreciating the beauty of creation, in drawing or writing down reflections, in building mobiles from twigs, leaves, pinecones and ferns, and by creating cyano-print pictures.
Here are some pictures from the event.
Together with colleagues from across East Lothian, Anikó takes regular turns in offering a reflection in the East Lothian Courier. Here is this week's piece:
The world keeps changing, and the Church is no exception. Many of you know that the Church of Scotland is currently undergoing a restructuring process, with changes at the national, regional and local level, to face our challenges and make the church more fit for purpose in a changing world. Fewer people attend church – not necessarily because they haven’t got faith or don’t want a church connection, but because Sunday mornings can be difficult, or because the traditional form of worship is perhaps unfamiliar to them. Here’s the thing: the church has always been changing. What we know now as the church is quite different to what the church would have looked like in the days of Jesus and his first disciples. And that’s good. ‘Finding new ways to touch the heart of all’, that’s one of the commitments of the Iona Community, and I think that’s a constant challenge. It’s good to think about what we do and why we do it, and to change things if they’ve had their time. So we’re trying new things, in addition to our Sunday services: livestreaming services online, a new podcast, a children’s club and Forest Church after the holidays. Everyone is welcome to join in with what suits them best – and if you’d like to explore other opportunities, please get in touch with your local church, to help us work out what’s needed in our parishes just now. One very visible sign of the changes will be that some of our church buildings will close. We simply can no longer maintain such big buildings in every community: attendance and income, to help cover maintenance cost, have decreased more and more over the past decades. That’s sad and painful for many of us who have emotional links to the buildings where we’ve seen family weddings, baptisms and funerals. The life of the church will continue though: we’re concentrating our resources on fewer focal points, but continue to serve all our communities. Some of the buildings may be taken over by local trusts and so may well still be available for family services, while others will find new uses. Church is so much more than buildings, though: it’s people, and relationships, it’s how we live our faith in our daily lives, not just for an hour on a Sunday morning.
Anikó is podcasting at Wonderings – reflections of a minister.