Burning Bush Forest Church began meeting outdoors for worship in March of 2016.
We are a small, experimental worshiping group; individuals who have found ourselves longing for connection with the Divine spirit in the natural world. We come to nurture our spirits and tend our souls. We come to reconnect with our wild home, our watershed, and the community of creation. We come to find others who are on similar spiritual paths. We come to experience silence, and beauty, and contemplation, together.
Our name, Burning Bush Forest Church, comes from a verse in Exodus where God speaks to Moses in the form of a burning bush. The voice from the bush instructs Moses: "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." When we gather for worship out in nature, we want to remember that the Earth itself is a place of sacredness, a place where the Eternal Spirit dwells, a place that reveals the presence of Divine grace.
It is our hope that worshiping in and with nature will transform us as we deepen our connection with the community of creation, and with our Creator. We hope to open our awareness and fine tune our attention to wonder and mystery. We recognize that in nature nothing stands alone, but that everything is interconnected with other parts of the ecosystem. And so, we recognize the importance of being connected with larger systems beyond ourselves.
We are partners in the Wild Church Network, a group of churches who encounter God through creation from across North America and beyond.
We are also partners with St Jacobs Mennonite Church, who provide prayerful support and encouragement in addition to being a holding spot for donated funds. This connection extends to Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, where we hold provisional church status, and where Wendy works part-time as an Eco-Minister.
Our beginnings are also connected with the Forest Church movement based out of the UK. In 2014 Wendy's son was participating in a forest school program. One afternoon as she picked him up from forest school she had an epiphany - if there could be such a thing as forest school, why couldn't there be forest church?! She googled the term and came across the Mystic Christ website and learned of forest church groups meeting in the UK. From that moment a seed was planted, and eventually Burning Bush Forest Church sprouted and grew.
Do you meet all year round?
Yes, we meet every month of the year. Yes, even in winter in Canada. Our intention is to meet in and enjoy all types of weather, unless the conditions pose a safety threat (like a lightning storm). If we need to cancel due to weather, an email will be sent out to everyone on our email list, and a notice will be posted on our Facebook page.
How should I dress?
It has been said that there is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. When considering how to dress for attending a forest church gathering, simply dress for the conditions. Make sure your footwear is appropriate for snow, ice, or mud, depending on the season.
Do I need to bring anything?
It is not necessary to bring anything. However, if you wish, some of the following items may be useful:
- camping chair or stool
- watch or device for telling the time
- bug spray/sunscreen
- water or hot drink
Is this a Christian group?
Yes, we are rooted in the Christian tradition, and include readings from scripture in addition to poetry or other texts. We welcome everyone, no matter your faith background or experience with church. We are not focused on dogma or doctrine, but on faith experience, and hope that all will encounter the Divine as we gather.
What about accessibility?
Our gathering places are outdoors and on natural terrain. Walking trails may be uneven or have rocks or roots. If you have a specific accessibility concern, please contact us.
Are children welcome?
Yes, children are welcome! As our gatherings are informal and relaxed, children are free to participate to the extent that they wish. We also recognize that just being outdoors and playing and can be part of worship and engagement.
What about dogs?
Yes, dogs are welcome. Please be mindful of others who may be uneasy with dogs off leash.
Do I need to pay?
We do not collect an offering, however we do welcome donations to help keep things running. See our donate page for more info.
Wendy Janzen, Founder & Eco-Minister
Wendy Janzen is the founder and pastor of Burning Bush Forest Church. She is an ordained pastor in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, with an MDiv from Anabaptist Biblical Seminary. She has additional training in eco-ministry and spiritual direction. She is also a co-founder of the Wild Church Network, and has been in love with nature since her childhood in the Canadian prairies, where she was nurtured by the expansive sky, the fertile soil, and the flowing river.
As part of her recent educational enrichment, Wendy has sought out a variety of opportunities to deepen her spiritual connection with creation, doing further training such as:
To learn more about Wendy's approach to nature-based spiritual direction with individuals or groups visit her spiritual direction profile.
Shared Leadership Teams
Burning Bush Forest Church has an Advisory Team that has provided support and accountability in setting direction together with Wendy since the beginning. It's members are Janet Bauman, Kim Knowels, Chip Bender, and Sara Wall.
More recently, we have been working at adding more voices to our leadership in worship, and a few people have joined a Worship Leading Team to co-lead with Wendy, and to be available when Wendy is on vacation or ill. This team is made up of Henriette Thomson, Leah Bowman, Chip Bender, and Lisa Carr-Pries.