Heather Wolfe, Creation Care Liaison. We are a vibrant multi-generational community in worship of God and discipleship in the way of Jesus Christ. We are fortunate to live amidst the beauty of the Green Mountain State; we cherish the land that our Creator has given us, and we hope to preserve this for future generations. Underlying this commitment is a willingness to keep asking the question: “How can we live simply that others may simply live?” This, to us, is implicit in faithfully loving our neighbors, and, ultimately, our Creator.
Our worship service is friendly, casual and family-oriented. The monthly Wild Church gatherings are hour long services, at the heart of which is a 20 minute solo wandering and wondering time (during which young children have a special kids time) followed by coming back together to share reflections with each other. We welcome others to join us in worshiping in creation, with creation, as creation.
IS YOUR WILD CHURCH ASSOCIATED WITH A DENOMINATION? Yes - Mennonite, however Taftsville Chapel has been described as an “eclectic” community of faith. Many of us do not come from Anabaptist backgrounds; others of us are founding members of our church who came to the Upper Valley from Pennsylvania over 50 years ago, doing 1-W alternative service as conscientious objectors to the military draft and serving at the nearby Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
WHAT LED YOU TO START A WILD CHURCH? The pandemic has provided us the gift of thinking outside the box that is our church building. While Zoom gatherings have hosted our regular weekly worship, we craved coming together as community in-person and so at Taftsville Chapel Mennonite Fellowship, we decided to ‘go wild’ and start supplemental Wild Church services once or twice a month on Sunday afternoons. We first learned about the Wild Church Network (WCN), which was co-founded by a Mennonite pastor, Wendy Janzen of Ontario, from a link in a Mennonite Creation Care Network (MCCN) newsletter. This model of doing church resonated with us in our commitment to creation care as a congregation while also fulfilling the desire we had of resuming in-person worship safely. Jesus did much of his teaching and preaching outside. He is our encouragement to be radical, to get back to our outside roots. We come to Wild Church to re-connect spiritually with God, with each other, and with the land as beloved community.
WHERE DO YOU USUALLY GATHER? In a meadow on a 20-acre private Vermont homestead with permaculture gardens, orchards, vineyard, free-ranging chickens, trout pond, and forest trails.
WHAT IS YOUR CLIMATE LIKE? We have yet to meet in winter months as our state closed in-person gatherings the end of November 2020. We met Jun-Nov and resumed May 2021. We hope to meet monthly all year, in all seasons and all weather (except thunderstorms).
WHO ARE THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE displaced by settlers in your bio-region? The Western Abenaki, specifically the Sokoki band, stewarded the land where we now meet. The English settlement of New England and frequent wars forced many Abenaki to retreat to Quebec in the mid-1600s. During our services we refer to others besides ourselves who identify this land as home .
HOW DO YOU INCLUDE THE LAND, CREATURES, ELEMENTS OF YOUR PLACE IN YOUR PRACTICES OR SERVICE? These elements of land, creatures, place are interwoven in all parts of our service- often as prompts for reflection during wandering, an object lesson for the children's time, or incorporated into an offering time where we give back to the land and creation.
IS YOUR WILD CHURCH INVOLVED IN CLIMATE ADVOCACY WORK AND/OR ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION? How do you embody that? We are active in both arenas of climate advocacy and ecological restoration. Some things we have done recently include: We installed solar panels and donate surplus clean energy to local non-profits. We engaged with a Lenten Fast for the Earth in 2021 and hosted supporting sustainability skills workshops such as plant-free diet, food waste reduction, homemade green cleaners, garden tool maintenance. We participated in a Friday film series around ecological restoration, watching and discussing films such as The Pollinators and Kiss the Ground. We planted permaculture gardens of native species and edibles using no-dig, organic methods that mimic forest gardening. We are active with Interfaith Power and Light, Mennonite Creation Care Network, and the Season of Creation Care .
FROM THE "CHRIST TRADITION" IS ONE WAY WE HAVE DESCRIBED THE COMMONALITIES OF WILD CHURCHES IN THE NETWORK. HOW DOES (OR DOESN'T) THIS DESCRIBE YOUR COMMUNITY? We join together as a vibrant multi-generational community in worship of God and discipleship in the way of Jesus Christ.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GATHER? Currently we gather monthly .
Heather'S LITURGIES AND Resources
Wild Church members can download and adapt any of Heather's resources. Please attribute borrowed resources to Heather.
Media: Mosaic Article: Church Gone Wild by Heather Wolfe
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