Launch is the latest in a series of innovations to emerge from the diocese’s Pioneer Project
Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 March saw the launch of the Bath and Wells Outdoor Church Hub. Launch events were hosted in three beautiful Somerset locations: St Nicholas’ Church, Portishead looking out across the Bristol Channel, the Parish Hall beside the river at West Lydford and Watchet, where people of all ages worshipped at Splash Point overlooking the harbour, hills and grey sea.
Outdoor Church is all about meeting with God in the natural world and growing in our wonder and care for creation. The Outdoor Church Hub – developed as part of the diocese’s Pioneer Project 2018-2025 – will meet every six months to share ideas, hear stories of what others are doing to engage with spiritual seekers through the created world, and develop our ‘missional and ecological muscles’.
The main speaker at the launch events was Revd Dr Sally Welch Area Dean of Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds. Sally shared her understanding of outdoor spirituality. She explained how the whole deanery has come together and discovered a new rural way of being missional by making short local pilgrimages. She calls them ‘a daisy chain of walks’ which connect churches in each village in the deanery and are open to all. Families on the pilgrim walks are offered their own ‘Adventure Notebook’ with ideas of things to look for and think about on the journey. The Bath and Wells audience saw how a similar project could work in their area. “Lots of exciting ideas and possibilities!” said one ‘hubber’.
Braving the cold wind following Sally’s talk, everyone went outside. And with prayer starting and finishing a short act of worship, the group hunted for tiny things to put in a matchbox. Treasures discovered included sycamore wings, moss, soft feathers, lambs’ tails, hazelnut cases, and clumps of violets.
At the Watchet event led by Andy Levett of the Go Team the group sang, toasted marshmallows, prayed and made seed bombs standing around a fire pit. Tina Hodgett, Diocesan Evangelism and Pioneer Team Leader, said, “I never expected to finish this weekend with a fresh mission call of my own. But the idea of inviting neighbours from my village to join me on a walk where we’ll be attentive to God, each other and the natural world, is something I think I can have a go at.”
Outdoor Church Hub is the third of our newly established hubs for practitioners of experimental worship and ways of being church. It follows the successful launch of the Messy Church Hub and Café Church Hub in 2018. To get involved, contact Emma Bartlett 01749 677077 or email Emma Bartlett
The launch of the learning hubs are a key part of the diocese’s Pioneer Project 2018-2025 which aims to create a broad landscape of pioneering mission and innovative church practice across the diocese
As well as the launch of the hubs series, the Pioneer Project is working towards establishing nine high profile pioneer posts to catalyse that activity. The first pioneer appointment In Bathpool was made last year. And we are set to welcome two more pioneers in 2019 with the news that Rachel Spence and Nicky Pybus will join us in Whiteway and Bournville respectively. A fourth pioneer post, a rural pioneer role to ‘grow Tone Deanery younger’ is currently being advertised.