This really makes me laugh. With an ageing congregation and a failing effort to attract younger members, some wise folk in the Church of England have formed- the Forest Church…
This is from their website and had me in stitches:
Forest Church is a fresh expression of church drawing on much older traditions when sacred places and practices were outside – but it is also drawing on contemporary research that highlights the benefits of spending time with nature in wild places.
Forest Church isn’t just normal church happening outside, instead it attempts to participate with creation. And it isn’t just a fellowship group doing an outside activity, we aim to learn, worship, meditate, pray and practice with the trees, at the spring, along the shore….
Each group has its own flavour and range of gatherings. Examples vary from meditative walks, workshops on naturalist subjects to more formalised rituals. For some groups the latter tend to draw on the shape of Pagan rituals which have evolved to inhabit the outdoor space although the language often expresses the presence of Christ within the context of the Trinity, whilst also allowing for the fullness of gender expressed within God. Story and the historical myths of the land are celebrated and valued alongside scripture, thus allowing each Forest Church to be centred in its own location.
So lets see…
older traditions -check
sacred places…outside- check
the sea- check
Pagan ritual formats- check
Yes sir, someone in the C of E used Google, looked up key ideas of neo-Paganism and what attracts neo-Pagans and then used them to create a Church within a Church (or without one as it may technically be) and pitched it as a way to attract new congregations and pitch the wisdom and glory of Christ at them.
This is no different to someone pitching Satanism to attract disillusioned Christians who seek to rebel against the Church (key point: most Satanist’s do not actually believe in the existence of Satan, but rather use the image as a key attraction factor behind what is actually a fairly detailed and interesting philosophy on life and self-development whilst Luciferians have a theistic belief in Lucifer whilst retaining a similar philosophy focused however on self-deification rather than self-improvement and survival)
I respect the efforts of the C of E, but it really does smack of desperation.
Fear the Pagans…well, the real ones who generally don’t call themselves Pagan. The C of E can have the Wiccan’s- which is who I suspect they are targeting.