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Forests & Firepits

Hosted by Dreaming Beyond (a Methodist Church rural & small pioneering online learning community) and Fresh Expressions, this online space was created to inspire & support those looking to gather outdoors with their rural communities. Simon Goddard from FX opened our time with a devotion that helped us to praise God for the times when we catch a glimpse of the Creator in the midst of his creation.

“The whole world is potentially a sacrament. For it is through the material things of this world that God chooses to reveal himself. If this is so, then I should handle those things with respect, with joy, with gratitude. And when I do, I find that I am constantly aware of God the giver.”

Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction

We then heard stories from two different outdoor church communities about their journey and learning thus far; Deacon Carys Woodley from the Shropshire & Marches Methodist Circuit shared her story of gathering outdoors in various locations, as well as developing a dedicated outdoor church space in one location. Lol Wood, Family Project lead in Lunesdale, Cumbria, shared the learning from her Foresty team as they have developed and gathered in their outdoor space with the local community. To view both stories in full, please see above. The Q&A session was full of practical tips & advice (see the collated resource suggestions below for some further inspiration) and our time was closed by Philip Wagstaff who shared this poetic quote.

Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries…

Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browing

As a fledgling online community space, it is important to get to know each other, so there was also time in smaller groups for discussion. There were also plenty of questions, sharing of ideas, encouragement & resources. We gathered folk from Shetland and all places southward, from a variety of contexts and denominations. Keep a look out for details of next term’s gathering and do get in touch if you have an outdoor gathering story you’d be willing to share!


Forest & Fire-pit follow up resources & book recommendations (March 24) 





THANK YOU all for your conversation & sharing around our virtual campfire.

Do keep in touch – Rural Hope | Eventbrite

We’re happy to host a further gathering if there’s interest.

Share your stories using #ruralhope on social media posts, or email Sarah Hulme via