Rev. LEANN BLACKERT, UCC Minister. Wild Church is a sacred nature-based experience to awaken deep love for self, earth and all living beings for the survival and healing of the planet. We are a new expression of “church” being offered in British Columbia. The Christian story starts in a garden with humanity in conversation with the Holy One. Somewhere far down that luxurious path through the woods, structures began to be built and “church” became walled in. Wild Church is our attempt to return to the natural world to find connection with God, Source, Creator, whatever you name that which is bigger than we are. We will meet out in “the wild” to explore and experience the spiritual and the sacred.
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WHERE DO YOU USUALLY GATHER? The interior of British Columbia is a dry, lake-filled, mountainous area. Kamloops is semi-desert with rolling hills covered in sagebrush, small cactus and Ponderosa pines. It's not uncommon to come across a bear or coyote while wandering the trails of our local parks. Crows, ravens and magpies dominate the conversation, though the meadowlarks and red-winged blackbirds get their time, too. The locations for our Okanagan gatherings are centered in and around Kelowna, which is located right on Okanagan Lake. Not as arid as Kamloops, this area offers many meeting places along the lake or nearby Mission Creek or up high on the ridge lines. Painted turtles, ospreys and eagles have skirted our groups checking us out. And geese! Everywhere there are geese!
WHAT IS YOUR CLIMATE LIKE? Our climate offers four seasons although spring can be a bit short. Temperatures can range from -35C to +35C (-31F to 95F). Sometimes warmer in the summer. We do meet outside year round, choosing locations to help regulate temps. In the winter we bundle up in our good parkas and snow boots and typically participants choose walking meditation over sitting on the land! In the winter we offer sheepskins and blankets to help keep everyone warm.
WHO ARE THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE displaced by settlers in your bio-region? We open every gathering with an acknowledgement that the lands on which we gather are the traditional unceded lands of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc and Syilx peoples. This land was taken from the peoples around 1811. At that time the colonial government divided the larger nation into smaller bands with specific portions of lands distributed to each. In addition, the Syilx peoples became a trans-boundary nation separated at the 49th parallel and US/Canada border. The arrival of smallpox wiped out many of the indigenous peoples. Later children were taken from their families through manipulation and force and sent to residential schools with the intention of stripping them of their culture. The name of our community, Kamloops, comes from the indigenous word "tk-emlups" which means "where the rivers meet." The North and South Thompson Rivers meet in Kamloops and flow on to Kamloops Lake.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GATHER? We gather twice a month plus a monthly pilgrimage where we go on longer hikes together.
HOW MANY USUALLY GATHER WITH YOU? Usually between 12 and 25, and many of them are spiritual but not religious.
CLIMATE/ECOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES: We participate in climate or spiritual ecology, tree planting and other restoration actions, and community based sustainability actions. We are working toward more climate advocacy work. Our initial goal is to create a new ministry in our communities with a goal of helping others learn to love and care for our local lands. We continue to introduce ideas and actions to foster more commitment to this work.
IS YOUR WILD CHURCH ASSOCIATED WITH A DENOMINATION? We are under the umbrella of the United Church of Canada as a supported church plant.
Leann'S LITURGIES AND Resources
Wild Church members can download and adapt any of LeAnn's beautiful and poignant resources including:
International Women's Day/Celebration of the Divine Feminine
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