Oakwood Gathering Again

Do you find it easier to be with God when you’re in the natural world? Do you care about the environment locally and globally? Would you like to join others who feel the same? Then Oakwood Forest Church is for you.

We have missed gathering as Forest Church in person and are looking forward to enjoying God’s creation together again. We have three Oakwood Forest Church gatherings planned this Autumn/ Winter.

oakwood fc poster 2020

Lammas (Harvest) on Saturday 5th September at 2pm
Samhain (Winter’s Arrival) on Saturday 24th October at 2pm
Coming of the Light on Saturday 2nd January 2021 at 7am

Location:
Community Garden
St Nicolas Church Earley, Sutcliffe Avenue. RG6 7JN

In order to ensure we are minimising the risks associated with Covid19 we are currently meeting in the community garden at St Nicolas Church Earley. RG6 7JN.
We will stay in our households and keep appropriate distance at all times.
We will be meeting whatever the weather, come dressed appropriately.
Dogs on leads are welcome.

Access Forest Church: Tips for Wheelchair Access

As a powered wheelchair user I have to do A LOT of research about every place I visit; whether that’s a town, a museum, a nature reserve or the coast.

Many nature reserves have improved their accessibility over the last ten years which has made it much easier for wheelchair users to experience the natural world, but even then we need to research the facts before we head out.

As a forest church leader you can help wheelchair users by providing information about the accessibility of your location and details of routes you will use.

There are five key access issues which are important to provide information about:

  1. Parking
    Is there disabled parking?
    Does that car park have a solid surface? (gravel is impossible for wheelchairs)
  2. Facilities
    Are there wheelchair accessible toilets?
  3. Step free access
    Even one small step is impossible for a powerchair user though many manual chair users can cope ok with a very small step
  4. Terrain
    What is the terrain like?
    Wheelchairs rely on the power of the user, pusher or motor; the terrain is a huge factor in what power is required and is therefore a limiting factor.

Terrain can be defined in the following categories:
Easy

  • Pavement
  • Tarmac
  • Boardwalks

Medium

  • Short grass
  • Sturdy woodland paths
  • Compacted gravel or sand

Hard

  • Longer grass or fields
  • Woodland paths
  • Bridleways
  • Dried mud

Impossible

  • Sand
  • Wet mud
  • Loose Gravel
  1. Gradient
    What about the gradient?
    Downhill: It is hard to explain just how vulnerable it feels to be going down a steep slope facing forwards in a wheelchair, you can easily feel like you are going to fall out.

Uphill: it’s all about how much power is required which limits access

Transverse: the camber of any path can have a huge impact on accessibility for wheelchair users.

For example the blind bumps which are essential at road crossings for those with sight loss are often on drop curbs – trying to continue along a pavement where there is a dropped curb gradient is hard enough, where the blind bumps are also in place it can send wheelchairs straight into the road.

Relocate this example onto woodland paths with cambers and tree roots or a coastal path with lose gravel and stones and you get an idea of how difficult access can be in a wheelchair.

Gradient can be defined in the following categories:
Mostly flat

  • Pavements
  • Boardwalks
  • Beachfronts
  • Canal paths

A few ups and downs

  • Woodland paths
  • Cambers

Quite steep in places

  • Hillsides
  • Mountain paths
  • Paths with tree roots

At most locations it should be possible to provide an alternative route for those who use wheelchairs.
Or, even better… provide an accessible main route with an alternative route for the more adventurous.

Access Forest Church: Experience disconnection

This article was written today for Access Forest Church. Here is an exercise which might help you assess the accessibility of your forest church session.

I invite you to try and experience what this disconnection from nature feels like with four simple exercises. Each time ask yourself:

  • how you feel in yourself (eg frustration? anger? disappointment?);
  • how you feel about the environment you’re in (disconnected or connected?)
  • how you could change forest church sessions, worship, socials and events you lead to ensure everyone can take part?

Exercises:
A) mobility constrained
Sit on a chair on a path, you are not allowed to move from this chair. Find a representation of God’s creation.

B) visually impaired
Put on a blind fold of some sort. Find a representation of God’s creational beauty.

C) hearing impaired
Put on ear muffs or headphones. Find a representation of God’s voice.

D) depressed or anxious
There’s no way of mimicking this; but perhaps think of a time you have felt depressed or anxious… Find a representation of God’s peace.

You don’t need to find solutions for every accessibility issue at every session, but if you can tell people what barriers to access exist then you are helping people know whether they can attend.

If you want to go further, you can provide ways in which people can engage with your session alternatively if they can’t physically attend. I’m going to write about that more in the weeks to come.

Meditation on a Tree

This is the second video I created from the huge number of photos and videos people sent me in response to my request to try and bring nature connection to those people who can’t get out into nature because of the lockdown.

Take one tree
Doesn’t need to be a big tree
As long as you can comfortably
Lie down underneath

Allow the wonder of nature
To relax you completely
It’s time to do your duty
And breathe….. deeply

What can you sense
In amongst the tree?
Any birds making nests?
Caterpillars eating leaves?

At first it might seem empty
Nothing going on
Look a little deeper
You’ll discover quite a throng

A pigeon taking flight
Disturbs the canopy
What’s that taking a wander?
A massive bumblebee

Rain showers start
The tree becomes a roof
Droplets follow paths
Ancient to the roots

Every sense engaged
A day of many pleasures
Inspired by the world’s
Amazing varied creatures

As you pause for this time
Relaxing within nature
Let your mind dream
Of a world a little better

Where time in the wild
Isn’t a ‘sometimes’ treat
But something to enjoy
Every day of every week

When we emerge again
Let’s fully be connected
To each other, the world
Hope and love projected

Worshipping with Creation

Worshipping with Creation; Caring for Creation. A Pechakucha.

Knowing that so many of us aren’t able to get out into nature due to the lockdown or shielding I put a shout out on Facebook.  Has anyone got any videos or photos of their daily exercise which I could use to put together a video for those who are stuck at home.

I was overwhelmed with people wanting to help and this is the first of two videos I have created.  This format is a Pechakucha – a japanese form of presentation with a slide change every 10 seconds.

Worshipping with Creation

Explore seasons
Explore interactions
Springing
Blooming
Withering
Hibernating
Restore connection
Restore stillness
Quivering
Wondering
Exploring
Reflecting
Experience change
Experience growth
Yearning
Journeying
Learning
Living
Caring for creation

Poem written by Emma Major
Photos taken by people around the UK who love nature, find God in creation, are part of forest church or just find peace connecting with nature.

May 2018: hope of creation

What a wonderful afternoon celebrating Pentecost by finding renewed life in nature and talking about the holy spirit at work in our lives.

Here are a few photos of rocks, which were then decorated and hidden; an amazing staff as a monument to nature; the intense greens of the reserve admired by Sarah; and Mike with the flower decorations made by Liz in the background.

Our Bible readings, reflections and prayers from today are included below.

Acts 2: 1-4 (NIV)
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

I wonder…. Did the holy spirit just come upon the people? Or do this outpouring of God also invigorate the animals and plants of creation?

XXX

Then later in his letter to the Romans Paul speaks of the God of creation; about the hope in the world given by the holy spirit.

Romans 15:13 (Message): “Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”

I wonder… The holy spirit came to empower the disciples and to empower us all. But what are we empowered to do? How does this relate to caring for creation?

XXX

Pentecost prayer in a Celtic tradition:
May the Gifts of the Holy Spirit bring fire to the earth so that the presence of God may be seen
in a new light,
in new places,
in new ways.
May our own hearts burst into flame so that no obstacle,
no matter how great,
ever obstructs the message of the God within each of us.
May we come to trust
the Word of God in our heart, to speak it with courage, to follow it faithfully and to fan it to flame in others.
May the Jesus
who filled everyone
with his Holy Spirit
fill the world and the church with new respect
for everyone’s power and presence.
Give me, Great God,
a sense of the Breath of Spirit within me as I…
(State the intention in your own life at this time for which you are praying.)
Amen.

April 2018: God in Creation

Today, as we sprout anew after two years of being dormant, we are going to remind ourselves about God in creation. We’re going to look for God in His natural cathedral.

The Bible is full of scripture about our creator God and the importance of knowing that God is in everything in the would around us. Here are 10 I have picked for us today…

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Job 26:13 – “By His Spirit He adorned the heavens”

Psalms 24:1 – “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.”

Proverbs 22:2 – “The rich and the poor have this in common, The LORD is the maker of them all.”

Jeremiah 32:17 – “‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”

Matthew 19:4 – “And He said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them”

Mark 10:6 – “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them”

John 1:3 – “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

Acts 17:24 – “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.”

Romans 11:36 – “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

And theologians across the ages have reinforced the importance of finding God in nature. For example….
Martin Luther: “God writes the gospel in the trees and the flowers”

So today we shall follow Jesus’ command on us to keep looking for him, the holy spirit and God in the would around us:

Luke 11:9 – “Ask and you’ll get. Seek and you’ll find.”

For the next 45 minutes you’re invited to explore where you wish in the nature reserve. Maybe around the lake, or in the woodlands, or in the hedgerows. Go out and look for Jesus in the trees and flowers and animals of Oakwood.

And when you find the creator I invite you to follow Jesus’ continuing invitation to “Knock and the door will open”. Pray your thanks or requests, your praise or your pain. Knock in prayer and know that our creator God will be listening to you.

If you wish to write the prayers and leave them where you find God then there are some wooden sticks here for you to use. Or leave one of these stones there to bless someone else when they’re found.

It’s oh so quiet

It’s oh so still

You’re all alone

And so peaceful until…

Well actually it remains peaceful in Oakwood and all around Maiden Erlegh Nature Reserve, a peace you only find in the midst of nature.  We hope it’s been peaceful where you are whilst we’ve not been meeting, and hope you might like to join us as plans are afoot to meet again.

 

Sickness and disability struck the Oakwood forest church team and we’ve not been able to organise gatherings for a few years, but as the snow drops emerge so we’re emerging with ideas for how we can meet again in an accessible way.

 

If you’d like to be involved in the new season of Oakwood Forest Church then please email us at Oakwoodforestchurch@gmail.com

Oakwood Forest Church 2015

Starting On Sunday May 10th 2015 Oakwood Forest Church will be meeting four times a year on a Sunday afternoon/evening at The Interpretation Centre at Maiden Erlegh Nature Reserve.

This change has been made by the steering group for the following reasons:
1 – this makes Oakwood accessible to people of all physical abilities
2 – we will be able to use the facilities of the centre for toilets, hot drinks and focused activities
3 – the steering group will be able to lead the group better at each meeting with activities for all ages
4 – we will be supporting the vision and mission of the rangers of the nature reserve who would like to see the interpretation centre used by community groups

The schedule for the year ahead is as follows

Sunday 10th May 3-4pm He is Risen: Easter meets Pentecost
Sunday 19th July 5-6pm God, creation and families
Sunday 27th September 3-4pm Harvest, food banks and nature’s bounty
Sunday 10th January 3-4pm Epiphany: The Kings’ Journey
Sunday 20th March 3-4pm Palm Sunday; The Easter Journey to Jerusalem and Beyond

Oakwood Forest Church 2015

The cost of hiring the interpretation centre is £14.55 for 90 minutes.
We will be asking for donations at each meeting of Oakwood Forest Church to cover the cost of the hire, tea and coffee and the materials used for activities.