Lanni Lantto, Lay Leader. Wild Church of the Upper Peninsula is rising from an ecumenical choir of people reconnecting with our ancient black rocks, our expansive watersheds, our paper birch trees, our snowshoe hares and wild wilderness. Gathering together we bear witness to the holiness around us & place ourselves as God's stewards within a living breathing eco-system of black rocks and Great Lakes. We challenge the emptiness of our culture of consumption and experience the fullness of living in right relationship with the Earth and our Creator.
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WHAT LED YOU TO START A WILD CHURCH? The world calls us into careers and God calls us into vocations. We are called to care for creation and for each other because it is all connected. "The leaves have not suddenly changed their colors at this moment, nor has the sky been transformed. All that beauty was already there. What changed? I did. This splendor was there, but I did not notice it. I became a beholder and I see what is there to be seen" (M. Himes). When I step out of myself (ego) and into creation, we begin to notice the love which supports all that exists. God is the Mystery which has created all things; for God is love and love is a relationship of which, we are called into daily. We have a supportive network of people in our area who called forth this new type of ministry and I just help curate it. There is nothing more important to me to be giving my time too especially at this pivotal time.
WHERE DO YOU USUALLY GATHER? We usually meet with Lake Superior, paper birch trees, snow hares in winter and chipmunks and Canadian geese in the summer, in public parks or hiking trails and sometimes where you can see the scars of the mines.
WHAT IS YOUR CLIMATE LIKE? Snow 75% of the year! We meet indoors in a small chapel for Evening Centering Prayer but during COVID, we meet online.
WHO ARE THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE displaced by settlers in your bio-region? We acknowledge in every service that this is the unceded ancestral land of the Anishinabe people.
HOW DO YOU INCLUDE THE LAND, CREATURES, ELEMENTS OF YOUR PLACE IN YOUR PRACTICES OR SERVICE? The often hidden congregation of land and creatures is always present either in physical space or within the prayers, themes the service. We pray together as a community but we also reflect on how our actions affect everything around us.
IS YOUR WILD CHURCH INVOLVED IN CLIMATE ADVOCACY WORK AND/OR ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION? How do you embody that? We are usually the only voice of faith at climate advocacy events as a part of our mission is to "put our faith at the forefront of societal and climate changes". We know that the Christian tradition is rich with wisdom on our responsibility to care about these issues. We also hope to be a place of respite for those who have left traditional congregations or faith traditions that never fully connected these dots, especially the youth.
FROM THE "CHRIST TRADITION" IS ONE WAY WE HAVE DESCRIBED THE COMMONALITIES OF WILD CHURCHES IN THE NETWORK. HOW DOES (OR DOESN'T) THIS DESCRIBE YOUR COMMUNITY? We are rooted in Christ and the teachings- we do not 'worship nature' we worship in nature a God who created ALL things. We are a cross-denominational entity that brings forth a lot of ancient Christian wisdom especially from the desert mother/fathers, the lives of the Saints, and modeling after Christ.
IS YOUR WILD CHURCH ASSOCIATED WITH A DENOMINATION? Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Episcopal church. Open to all.
LANNI'S LITURGIES AND Resources
Wild Church members can download and adapt any of Lanni's beautiful and poignant resources. Please attribute borrowed resources to Lanni Lantto.
Reflection: A Prayer for the Amazon
Reflection: An Invitation From the Birds
Nature Prayer Service: Ask the Animals
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