Burning Bush Forest Church began meeting outdoors for worship in March of 2016.
We are a small, experimental worshiping group; individuals who have found ourselves longing for connection with the Divine spirit in the natural world. We come to nurture our spirits and tend our souls. We come to reconnect with our wild home, our watershed, and the community of creation. We come to find others who are on similar spiritual paths. We come to experience silence, and beauty, and contemplation.
Our name, Burning Bush Forest Church, comes from a verse in Exodus where God speaks to Moses in the form of a burning bush. The voice from the bush instructs Moses: "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." When we gather for worship out in nature, we want to remember that the Earth itself is a place of sacredness, a place where the Eternal Spirit dwells, a place that reveals the presence of Divine grace.
It is our hope that worshiping in and with nature will transform us as we deepen our connection with the community of creation, and with our Creator. We hope to open our awareness and fine tune our attention to wonder and mystery.
We are partners in the Wild Church Network, a group of churches who encounter God in the wilderness from across North America.
We are also partners with St Jacobs Mennonite Church, who provide prayerful support and encouragement in addition to being a holding spot for donated funds. This connection also extends to Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.
Our beginnings are also connected with the Forest Church movement based out of the UK. In 2014, while Wendy was on sabbatical, she got into a conversation with a neighbour who declared she was done with church. She said she would rather go for a hike with her family on Sundays, with others, and maybe even include some sort of ritual or reflection. Around the same time, Wendy's oldest son was in a weekly forest school program. One afternoon as she picked him up from forest school she had an epiphany - if there could be such a thing as forest school, why couldn't there be forest church?! She googled the term and came across the Mystic Christ website and learned of forest church groups meeting in the UK. From that moment a seed was planted, and eventually Burning Bush Forest Church sprouted and grew.
Do you meet all year round?
Yes, we meet every month of the year. Yes, even in winter in Canada. Our intention is to meet in and enjoy all types of weather, unless the weather conditions pose a safety threat (like a lightning storm). If we need to cancel due to weather, an email will be sent out to everyone on our distribution list, and a notice will be posted on our Facebook page.
How should I dress?
It has been said that there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. When considering how to dress for attending a forest church gathering, simply dress for the conditions. Make sure your footwear is appropriate for snow, ice, or mud, depending on the season.
Do I need to bring anything?
It is not necessary to bring anything. However, if you wish, some of the following items may be useful:
- camping chair or stool
- watch or device for telling the time
- bug spray
Is this a Christian group?
Yes, we are rooted in the Christian tradition, and include readings from scripture in addition to poetry or other texts. We welcome everyone, no matter your faith background or experience with church. We are not focused on dogma or doctrine, but on faith experience, and hope that all will encounter the Divine as we gather.
What about accessibility?
Our gathering places are outdoors and on natural terrain. Walking trails may be uneven or have rocks or roots. If you have a specific accessibility concern, please contact us.
Are children welcome?
Yes, children are welcome! At our gatherings we aim to always have a trained camp counselor present to supervise and engage children in nature activities, and in age appropriate conversation on the theme of the day. Some children may prefer to stay with a parent. It is always helpful to know how many children might be coming, so if you are bringing children, let us know if possible.
What about dogs?
Yes, dogs are welcome. Please be mindful of others who may be uneasy with dogs off leash.
Wendy Janzen is the founder and leader of Burning Bush Forest Church. She is an ordained pastor in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada and is trained in eco-ministry and spiritual direction. She has been a leader in the Wild Church Network since its inception, and has been in love with nature since childhood.
To learn more about Wendy's approach to nature-based spiritual direction with individuals or groups visit her spiritual direction profile.
As part of her journey into the area of spiritual ecology Wendy has sought out a variety of opportunities to deepen her spiritual connection with creation, doing further training such as: