Tag Archives: oakwood

The Story of Oakwood Forest Church so far…

These slides were presented at the Earthing Faith Gathering in May 2014.  
The outline notes are included below but Emma has never been known for sticking to any notes and this time was no different.

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Oakwood Forest Church met for the first time in November 2013. Sprouting from a visit to the New Forest Forest Church and conversations with friends from other churches in Earley. We are the sort of people who go for walks in the woods when we are trying to find some quiet time with God and so the idea of combining Church with nature was very appealing, especially in our very urban location.  The great thing about starting a forest Church is that there are no costs and no buildings to worry about. One quick conversation with the ranger of our nature reserve and another with our church insurers was all we needed to meet for the first time with everyones blessing.

So what is Oakwood Forest Church?
Oakwood Forest Church is:
– A fresh expression of church
– Non-denominational
– Open to everyone
– Christ Centered
– Part of a national network of forest churches

It’s hard to explain how Forest Church looks if you’ve never been to one of the meetings but it is best summarised as walking, exploring and praying together in God’s natural cathedral. We are a group of people, gathering to meet God and journey together.  Over the last six months we’ve had over 50 people come to one or more of the five meetings. We’ve also joined with a local church to run an Easter woodland walk which had over 150 people take part.  We have over a dozen members who don’t go to any other Church and who find God in the natural connections of the world; for them this is an opportunity to explore faith and what Jesus is all about.

Starting a forest Church may not be for everyone; but holding forest Church type events could be a really great way of linking your congregation to the natural world and the environment we are called to protect. It is also a wonderful way of meeting with people who are seeking faith and who are looking for a way of engaging with faith outside of church buildings.  The format of each Oakwood FC meeting will vary slightly; but we will start by meeting and praying together before walking and exploring for an hour in God’s presence.

The notes and slides from all the speakers at the gathering can be found at Earthing Faith

Sensing the Spirit of God

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone
but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars
.’

Martin Luther

oakwood brook

We are made in the image of God.
Made to be in relationship with God.
Made with five distinct ways of sensing the Spirit of God.

1. Vision

Our eyes see everything and yet often they see nothing.
Slow down and stop; allow your eyes to really see.
Under your feet,
Above your head.
What do you see?
How many individual pieces of natures jigsaw can you count?
Which stands out for you?
Which takes your breath away?
Is that God showing Himself to you?

 

2. Hearing

Before we recognise anything else we hear the voice of our mothers.
If you stop quietly now what can you hear?
Voices?  Cars?  Trains?  Music?

Beyond the sounds what else can you hear?
Your own thoughts?
Your worries, to-do list?
Can you move them aside?

There you find God.
Can you hear Him?
In the distant bird song?
In the rustle of the trees?
In the movement of the lake?

 

3. Touch

Turn to face the wind.
Can you feel it on your face?  On your hands?
Is it warm or cold; fierce or gentle?

Now take your hands and pick up a leaf, stone or branch.
Close your eyes and let your fingers feel nature.
Is it smooth or rough?  Old or new?  Alive or dead?

Turn to someone else and hold hands.
How does this feel?  Awkward or easy?
What do these hands tell you about the person?
What does this tell you about God?
And what do your hands tell someone else?

 

4. Taste

Does anything taste as good as cold water on a hot day?
Perhaps hot tea on a cold winters day?
How about blackberries fresh from the bush?
Or carrots straight from the ground?

When did you last taste something that took your breath away?
We have lost connection between our food and our plate.
Where did your lunch come from?
How good did it taste?
Did it damage the world we live in?
Did it taste good enough for the damage it did?

 

5. Smell

Finally turn your attention to your nose.
Your nose can smell more than 1 trillion different smells!
How many can you smell right now?

As you walk in a spiral away from the base try and identify the odours on the air.
How many are man made?
How many come from the natural world?
Which do you like?  Which do you not?

The sense of smell is most closely linked to memory.
Is there a smell which reminds you of someone in your past?
Or a meal?  Or some other event?

Is there a smell which reminds you of God?
Perhaps a smell from a church?
or from a family meal?
or from nature?
How does it feel to sense God with you again through that memory?

 

God is not a being in the distance.
He is not the creator who abandoned us long ago.
God is alive and with us in The Holy Spirit.
We can See Him
Taste Him
Touch Him
Hear Him
Smell Him if we only stop and look and wait and let ourselves find Him.
Today, tomorrow, any day, every day.

Oakwood Forest Church in the press again

if you kneel down in the woods today

Oakwood Forest Church has been given a fantastic write up by Vivienne Robinson in the January 2014 edition of Xn magazine.  I urge you to pick up a copy at any church in the Thames Valley or look at the edition online by clicking the link http://issuu.com/xnmedia/docs/xn-jan14/11?e=3970667/6255876

Walking the Nativity

Picture the scene:  a cold, bright winters day inviting the family out for a walk to explore the nativity.  Yes; that really was what I imagined the weather would be like on Saturday 21st December 2013 which just goes to prove that I did not miss my calling to be a weather forecaster.

In reality the day was the second or third wet day in a row and cold to boot.  I had sent out reassuring messages in email, text and on facebook that Oakwood Forest Church was not weather dependant and arrived with little expectation of any turn out at all.  What a doubting Thomas I am.  Five hardy families and a couple of well dressed adults came along ready to Walk the Nativity despite the wind and rain.

ofc walking nativity handout

As we walked alongside the fast moving Loddon Brook we stopped six times to meet the characters, hear the nativity story, explore the meaning and share the joy of Jesus’ birth.  We sang Away in a Manger to the surprise of the dog walkers and hung our handmade biodegradable christmas decorations on the ancient Gemini Oak before praying together for the truth of Christmas to be heard far and wide and the love of God to be felt in every home.

walk the nativity photos 211213

We meet again on Saturday 18th January 2014 at 3pm.

Our first newspaper article in Xn

Here it is, our first, small but perfectly formed piece of press about Oakwood Forest Church. A piece on Page 11 of Xn December 2013 edition entitled “through the woods and forest glades they wander”.  It is wonderful to see this fabulous Christian magazine promoting what we do and really understanding what we’re about.

http://issuu.com/xnmedia/docs/xn-december13final

ofc in xn dec13

Walking, exploring & praying together

oakwood forest church image

In him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
And the light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness has not overcome it.
( John 1:5)

Oakwood Forest Church is:
–       A fresh expression of church
–       Non-denominational
–       Open to everyone
–       Christ Centered
–       Part of a national network of forest churches

 

We walk, we explore and we pray together.
We are a group of people gathering to meet God and journey with Him.
We are church.