Revd Lucy Brencher (Priest in Charge at Acaster Malbis, with Appleton Roebuck w Acaster Selby and Bishopthorpe Benefice - AAA) steps out in faith and generously provides church in the great outdoors.

Lucy writes:

Elizabeth Barrett Browning said ‘Earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes’. People often say they feel close to God the Creator stood on a mountain or surrounded by a woodland and many call nature the Second Book of God. As God speaks in the Bible via the written word and so creation reveals the otherness of God, the beauty, the wonder, the wildness and the complexity of creator God.

At All Saints' Church, Appleton Roebuck, there had been no families joining us for Sunday services for many years. When I arrived as curate-in-charge in January 2022, we had a space in our monthly pattern of services and naturally wanted to encourage some all age, family worship in the village. We didn't rush to fill it; instead, we prayed and listened to our context.

From conversations I was hearing that new families had moved into our village for the space and rural environment that it offers. We also were keen to offer a service that was eco minded and safeguarded our beautiful surroundings. We recognised that Sundays are busy for lots of families, so chose an afternoon slot, which would be a short, fun, activity-based time outdoors, when we could wonder about God together. We knew that it was for us to go out into our community and not to expect them to come into church.

Now as priest-in-charge, we set off with Roots (outdoor church) on Sunday 23rd April 2023, which was Earth Day.

Our hope for this fledgling church gathering is that in nature we have the space and inclination to experience and wonder at God's goodness. I hope that families will connect and grow in faith, as we gently consider what it means to grow as a follower of Jesus.

Note from Jan in the Generous Giving team

I was very much blessed to be part of Roots at Appleton Roebuck and explored how life is a journey and God generously promises to be with us as our guide and travel friend. We were joined by children, young people and adults – all smiling and loving being around a campfire.

Our memory verse from the Bible was Exodus 3:12 - “I will be with you,” God said.’ It continues, “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.”

After crafting and going on a guided trail in the woods, I was invited to tell a story about the adventure of faith around our campfire. I used props and compared a map with the Bible as our guide, a water bottle with the refreshing words of God, my scuffed walking boots that sometimes we go through tough times and my colourful rucksack with how vibrant life can be with our walk with God.

It was well received and gave food for thought for who were there and, Lucy said, especially those who are not actually ‘church goers’. All were looking forward to the next service with comments of bringing others with them.

So, I would like to ask - Is there something you would love to do in your church that would radically bring the community around you to see the love of Jesus in action?

Are you afraid of the reaction you may get from those around you? How about being generously brave and stepping out in faith – God will honour your courage.

Remember - ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.’ From Deuteronomy 31:6 and Joshua 1:9

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