Welcome to Wild Church… ‘bringing spirit back to earth’
When do you feel most alive? When are you most open and connected with a deeper sense of being? When do you fall in love with life and want to turn towards the world with hope and care?
Perhaps, like us, your sacred ground is the earth under your feet… your sacred spaces are cathedrals of trees with branches filled with wind and rain, sunlight or stars… your baptismal pools are filled with deep brown river water or the wild and salty sea. Perhaps, like us, you yearn to share this… for spiritual community, for authentic meeting and deep silence with people and with all beings. So, welcome to wild church!
An invitation… to re-member Sundays as whole and holy time, re-visiting our local sacred spaces and returning to the community of all beings through sharing food, walking out into nature for elemental celebration, sinking into deep silence and opening to the spirit of the wild…
We are a small core group with a warm and open welcome to all of any faith or none. We are journeying through the seasons of the spirit in community with each other and within the changing cycles of the natural world that we are part of. From Autumn 2016, after our Fundraising Launch on Sunday October 9th and first pilgrimage on Sunday October 30th, until our concluding River Dart Canoe Pilgrimage in July 2017, we have gathered on the second Sunday of the month to remember this as sabbath, as sacred time and space, in a way that then enlivens the deep sacred nature of everyday and place. Plans are afoot for further adventures from Spring 2018 and we hope you will come and join us!
We don’t have a fixed format from month to month, as for us an emergent style is part of the wild nature of Wild Church! But there are recurring elements woven together in different ways for each gathering. So some of us start the day in local established Church services, which can be both a blessing and a challenge, so some of us don’t! We always walk out into nature and we welcome anyone who wants to join us. We are a pioneering inter spiritual Church based in the practice of pilgrimage, so we tend to move around to discover the delights of different places each month.
When walking out, we travel together in silence, in communion with our inner being, each other and nature… through the forest, along the river bank or shore… whatever the weather and so being touched by the cool of the rain, the depth of gathering dark, the richness of mud, the sweetness of warm sunlight or whatever we meet along the way. We practise being present with what is. We often seek out ancient or natural sacred spaces as the end or midpoint of our journey together and pause there for a simple, silent and collaborative communion ceremony and blessing.
In July 2016 we completed our first project – a two year wild church pilgrimage from Dartington towards the source of the River Dart on Dartmoor and then travelling back towards the sea. We then started a new pilgrimage in the Autumn 2016 based on ‘meetings with remarkable trees’ which continued until July 2017. In Spring 2018 we plan to start a new series of pilgrimages inspired by local sacred wells and springs. Follow our journal, Facebook page to join the journey or come along with us…
As our core community grows, we hope to be able to expand what Wild Church can offer to and share with fellow and sister spiritual seekers. In relationship with the Totnes Mission Community we have offered occasional ‘Wild Church – At Home’ services in our local sacred spaces in Dartington. These are seasonal services with a strong, sweet taste of collaboration, creativity and contemplation and a little sprinkle of ‘bringing in the wild’, and are family friendly and open to all. Our pilot event was in Advent on Sunday 13th December in 2015. On Sunday 9th October 2016 we were back in Dartington Church for a ‘Wild Harvest’ celebration as a launch and fundraiser for our most recent project with poetry, storytelling and an inspirational talk on Spiritual Ecology.
Over the last two years we have held regular Wild Monastics meetings with meditation and contemplative singing (including Taize & interfaith chants) in Dartington, including at at St. Mary’s Church. This has marked the first steps of growing a new monastic commitment to a contemplative ‘Rhythm of Life’ and daily spiritual practice. Wild Monastics continues monthly from Oct 11th at 4pm at Hillcrest, Dartington. More details here.
Those interested to explore more deeply the spiritual ideas and practices underpinning our exploration of Wild Church, might like to look at our Wild Wisdom School courses. Our first three year course concluded in July 2017 but we hope to offer another in future. Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to share your own hopes and longings and want to get involved with any aspect of Wild Church.
Individual spiritual counselling, mentoring and soul friendship is also available with Rev. Sam, the founder of Wild Church, as well as short stays in her Dartington Micro Monastery. More details here.
Sometimes we are asked ‘why Wild Church?‘ Religion has sometimes been used destructively in the past to split matter from spirit and justify the domination of the natural world in a way that has contributed to environmental damage and the wounding of all beings, including ourselves as human creatures who depend on the web of all life for our survival. Isn’t it time we stepped outside of such understandings and structures and healed the splits within ourselves and in relation to the world? As global warming increases and environmental and social crisis ensue, we each need to deepen our love, understanding and relationship with the natural world we are part of and commit together to acting for the good of all.
Let’s celebrate the wilderness within and around us, care for our beautiful planet and all our relations and support each other in making positive change, as poet Mary Oliver asks, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?