Members of St. Saviour’s parish invited friends and community members to join them in the beautiful natural surroundings of Vermilion Provincial Park for the first-ever meeting of Wild Church on June 20.
“Wild Church offers people an opportunity to join with others to experience the presence of God in the natural world,” says St. Saviour’s rector the Rev. Elizabeth Metcalfe.
Walking alongside the Vermilion River Reservoir, Park Ranger Gary Walsh shared his knowledge of the area. The group used the Anglican Order of Service in their worship and also incorporated elements of Sensio Divina, experiencing God’s presence by contemplatively ‘reading the book of creation.’
St. Saviour’s has started Wild Church as a ‘fresh expression’ of church, which isn’t simply an extra or different kind of service for existing parishioners, but an attempt to rethink what church can look like. It is an effort to create an authentic and ongoing community of faith, geared to those who don’t attend traditional services as well as those willing to worship in a new way.
The idea of Wild Church first came up because there are a number of kayakers at St. Saviour’s and one day someone jokingly commented, “We should have kayak church!” Rev. Elizabeth took that to heart. She started reading Creation Theology and discovered the Forest Church movement. Still, the idea might not have developed further, except that St. Saviour’s has also been working through ID framework this year with the Ven. Richard King, Archdeacon for Mission and Discipleship.
Rev. Elizabeth says, “ID gave us the courage to step out in faith, dream and dare to be Wild for Jesus.”
Archdeacon Richard says, “It’s been a delight to see this bold initiative from the St. Saviours' church family emerge. Having gotten to know them through the ID framework, I congratulate them in their willingness to risk being the missional disciples they innately are in Christ and wish them every success as they seek to connect with the Vermilion community in a fresh and innovative way.”
Wild Church intends to meet regularly and will incorporate the community’s love of the nearby Vermilion Park Lake, as well as more hiking and star-gazing as well. Winter could be more of a challenge, but St. Saviour’s is convinced the community will continue to respond to further opportunities to connect with God through creation.