UP WILD CHURCH
UP WILD CHURCH
WHAT IS U.P. WILD CHURCH
Where has the reverence, the wonder, and the awe for the natural world gone?
Have we built too many walls over, through and around ourselves
so that we can no longer see or feel the Mystery that creates all things?
Wild Church is: A spiritual home for the seekers of beauty, wonder, & awe; where the 'church goers' supplement their journey and the 'misfits' finally feel connected within the congregation of paper birch trees & squawking geese via the Mystery which creates all things. Deep within the Christian tradition there hides a wealth of wisdom on how to cultivate this relationship. It is time to bring this authenticity forward especially in the wild setting of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
In Gathering Together:
We create opportunities to foster a deeper spiritual connection with God outdoors and through virtual nature walks online.
Wild Church is Collaborative Voice:
One that is rising up from an diverse choir of seekers who desire a faith life that is responsive to what’s happening in the world right now. Indeed, it is as if Spirit is stripping us of our man-made divisions by reconnecting us to the soil, the watersheds, the oak tree, the caterpillars, as if there, we will fall back in love & in doing so, find ourselves again.
Wild Church Values:
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 we step out of ourselves (ego) and into creation (eco), 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.
Wild Church is For:
You are welcome whether you are a part of a Christian faith community already, questioning your faith, in recovery from wounds inflicted by religious trauma, simultaneously receiving nourishment from other faith traditions, or simply seeking to go deeper.
You Are The Bee:
Like bees pollinating the flowers... growing our community is all word of mouth.
You tell your story and invite your friends by sharing what you found helpful and why you attend. We invite those that we know who need to be nourished, fed, excited or inspired! You are the bee who takes the nutrients back to the hive. You are invited to actively participate in creating content, reading a poem or reflection, guiding us on a nature walk, taking photos or videos in nature, sharing your unique personality with us. The importance of community is
to be reminded that we don't need to be perfect. We're all here on this earth to learn and to leave the perfection to God.
How We Are Funded:
We are a non-profit 501(c)3 collaboration with funding support from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan and the ELCA Northern Great Lakes Synod. We have members who give monthly & those who give what they can. We rely on grants and generous donors.
We believe in the curiousity and strength of our local youth to grow into Earth Keepers motivated by a moral compass rooted in their faith.
If you feel like we do, please support our future.
For the sake of clarity in the beginning and to make this a safe place for a diverse group of individuals:
We do not:
Talk politics. We avoid labels. Many of us identify as ‘Republican’ or ‘Democrat’ and favor certain politicians but political talk only leads to arguments or division.
Look for common denominator of caring for creation. U.P. Wild never endorses or takes a public stand on political candidates & issues, however, we do prayerfully and reflectively decide how to protect and steward our local water and environment.
We do not:
Try and convert others into our way of thinking. In our group, we may have atheists, Evangelicals, former Catholics, current Episcopalians, and followers of the moon cycles- all represented in one circle. We are not here to convert each other but to respect each other. The “I am right” way of thinking only leads to division.
Respect where each person is at in their spiritual journey recognizing that many of us come from backgrounds of spiritual/religious trauma. We are a group that seeks to be Christ-like, which seeks to live out the way of authentic ancient Christianity in what we believe can only be experienced through who we are - in this moment - with each other.
We do our best to not:
Use triggering language.
Are mindful in how we express ourselves. We do not attack others verbally with dogmatic or slanderous terms. It is okay to say that you see God as your Lord and Savior or that for you God is the Universe but when we express ourselves, we use personal statements such as, “In my tradition, I refer to God as ___.” When we share our definition of God as based on our personal histories, we allow others in the group to hold their identifications without feeling threatened. U.P. Wild views God as the Creator, the Author of all Life, the Wordless Word, who lives in and within all things.
We do our best to not:
Exclude people, guilt or shame them. We do not judge people because of ethnicity, heritage, social status, orientation or spiritual background. We do not blame or shame anyone for their past or those of their ancestors.
See the person as they are. We accept that we are all “lepers in need of healing”. We work to identify the commonalities we have instead by realizing that we all have gone through suffering – that trauma is a spectrum and not a hierarchy. We see others through the eyes of Christ. Allowing them to reveal their true selves (their hopes and heartaches) so that we can resonate with elements of their story just as we would like them to resonate with ours.
We do not:
Become overbearing, overpowering, rude, or try to control situations and/or people. Loud voices and aggressive language is frightening and unhealthy. We never lash out at others and we can always ask our leader to get the group back on track.
Use compassion and calmness. We dismiss ourselves and take a “self time out” if we begin to get upset with something or someone. We work to peacefully resolve our conflicts. We acknowledge that UP Wild Church is not for everyone. And that is okay. We are seeking to create an alternative Christian community that has never existed for many of us- and it’s not always easy but it’s worth it.
2019 - The seeds were planted through a conversation by 2 moms re: the need for a innovative Spirit-driven ministry geared towards those who grew up in the 'church' but no longer attend Sunday services.
2020 - We began our Nature Prayer Service & Virtual Nature Walks
2021 - Developed volunteer wild crew, offerings expanded including Wilderness Walks
2022 - Monthly offerings, new people, relationship building including Wild School
2023 - Creating branches across the U.P., sustainable fundraising, more offerings