Forest Church

What is Forest Church?

Click this link to skip to a general introduction to the concept …

What does Quartz Forest Church look like?

We have met once a month for over two years now. We have seen the leaves fall from the trees, grow and now rest on the ground again. We have started to become acquainted with the landscape of the Crichton estate and find favourite spots. We have watched trees being planted and have said goodbye to the covering provided by those who have been felled

Please join us on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Our usual meeting point is outside the Crichton chapel at 2pm. Dress for the weather! We adapt what we do to suit the people who gather and respond to the place we are meeting.

In addition to the regular monthly meetings we have also started to do something special about four times a year. You can read about these in the past activities section, or by searching for posts with the category Forest Church

Join the mailing list to find out about things before they happen, or continue reading to find out more.


Quartz Forest Church on the Blog

  • QFC May 19.05.24
    After a busy weekend it was a pleasure to slow down and relax in the beautiful environment of the Crichton. This was complemented by refreshments and conversation. We have been exploring the Crichton estate for several years now but every time we return the green, the growth and the subtle changes inspire. Perhaps that is… Read more: QFC May 19.05.24
  • Muddy Church
    Do you get stuck when you try to think of things to do?Fans of Forest Church activities, or simply those who want to “wander and wonder” might find these Muddy Church resources handy. https://www.muddychurch.co.uk/resources They are free at point of access, but please support the artists by using their Ko-Fi link on the page.
  • Forest Church May 2024
    Summertime … We will meet, as is our custom, at 2pm outside the Crichton chapel. Dress for the weather, and bring what you need to be comfortable walking around the grounds. We will meet in the peace of Jesus, read from the Bible and read from the environment. Many of us will have had a… Read more: Forest Church May 2024
  • Birdsong
    This was sent in on our glimmers group. There have been a few posts recently of people simply enjoying their gardens, listening to the birds. This simplicity of living, enjoying the moment, is a gift the worth of which does not depend on words. However, as we have words here are some that are helpful… Read more: Birdsong
  • The preaching of trees
    “What are the sermons that the woods—those places of betweenness, repositories of ancient stories—might impart from their fretwork of branches and twigs, their columnar trunks and the boughs that hold up the sky?” Words are powerful communicators of meaning. Study, training, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit help us interpret, learn, and apply, what we find… Read more: The preaching of trees

A general introduction to Forest Church

The following introduction to “Forest Church – a field guide …” starts to answer the question “What is Forest Church”.

(For a more complete discussion on the theme, please read the book!)

“A simple definition might be a group of people, outside, connecting with nature and worshipping God – but I don’t think that quite captures the magic, so a bit more detail is needed. Forest Church isn’t just normal church happening outside; instead it attempts to participate with creation.

We aim to learn, worship, meditate, pray and practice with the trees, at the spring, along the shore. Participants come with an attitude of experimentation, playfulness and readiness to connect with nature. God is present in creation and can be understood through creation; you’re in the sermon, the readings come from the Second Book of God.

The worship will happen when your heart is caught up in the beauty of the moment.

Forest Church is a fresh expression of church drawing on much older traditions when sacred places and practices were outside – but it is also drawing on contemporary research that highlights the benefits of spending time in wild places.

Already there are a few distinct versions of Forest Church emerging. Some people are taking a structured and liturgical approach to their events, others are simply providing a space with very little structure. Some people are facilitating groups who are strong on meditative or ritualistic practice, others have more of a field ecology focus on the flora and fauna around them. Some people are offering something distinctly Christian, some are at the fringes. Some groups meet for an hour and a half, some meet all day. Some groups are influenced by location and have to take into consideration the dangers of their local environment and the creatures living there. The setting might be rural or urban, Forest Church isn’t bound by location; it’s as possible in the city as in the middle of nowhere. And, no, you don’t need a forest.

Having said all that, I would argue that there are, or should be, some central ideas underpinning a generic understanding and description of Forest Church.

• Safety first – Forest Church should be safe to go to. Think about any hazards in the environment you’re going to and the safety of individuals. And consider the safety of the environment from your visiting it.

• It happens outside, in nature – In challenging weather, with a new group, it is hard not to move inside if there is that option but get the clothing, setting and activity right and weather doesn’t matter so much.

• Participate with nature – The aim isn’t to go into nature as if it is something separate from us, the idea is to let the barriers drop; to be with nature. This is explored more in Chapter 3.

• Events are site-specific – Gatherings should relate to, and be in dialogue with the specific setting they’re in. If what is happening could have happened inside, it might be wonderful but it isn’t really Forest Church.

• Allow time for nature to contribute – Nature speaks when it wants to. Build flexibility into events to allow this interaction to happen. This will develop as your group does – adults especially have to relearn the ability to listen but children do it naturally and in many ways are our teachers as far as nature connection goes.

• Recognises that God is revealed in nature – Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – God’s eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made (from Romans 1). T he idea is that we can explore the characteristics of the Creator by exploring the creation.

• God speaks through nature – Also recognise that God speaks through nature – we may need discernment and practice to hear and interpret meaning but nature is a source of Divine revelation (more in Chapter 2 on this).

• Aim to be regenerative in practise – Forest Church should try to mend some of the damage humankind has done to the natural world without making things worse. Picking up more litter than we drop is a simple example, as is offsetting any carbon spent by the event.

• In the Christ Tradition – Your wording might be different to mine but the intention of those operating under the Forest Church banner (via www.forestchurch.co.uk) is for Forest Church to have a Christ-centred vision at its core.

There are various expressions of Forest Church, from occasional events hosted by an existing church, to groups that operate independently. For these groups it may be relevant to explore the question ‘is it church’? That all depends on how you define ‘church’, but there isn’t anything that a traditional church can do, such as worship, fellowship, teaching, prayer, discipleship and the sacraments, (communion and baptism for example), that can’t be done by Forest Church – although how to do all of that isn’t covered in this book.

The potential for Forest Church is exciting. They’re free to set up; they’re fairly easy to start and potentially free to run. They are open to, and attract, a diverse group of participants, some of whom wouldn’t attend a traditional church.”

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