Celtic worship: exploring the ‘thin’ spaces

Published: Tuesday May 24, 2022

A group of people sit on chairs in a graveyard while one man stands to read and another in clerical robes stands behind a table in a small tent.If worshipping in church buildings doesn’t inspire you to feel connected with God, you are not alone. One of the impacts of making worship ‘Covid- safe’ in recent years has been that lots of people have started to hold worship outdoors.

In Elmstone Hardwicke, Peter Fischer, the PCC Secretary and Treasurer explained, “Last year we started to hold Celtic Sunset Communion services in our churchyard.

“It is a lovely setting for a service, being a country churchyard, and proved to be popular, attracting worshippers from across the North Cheltenham benefice and beyond, with some people coming exclusively for the Celtic worship. The Revd Nick Bromfield leads a lovely reflective service which, taking into account the environment, has resulted in several people observing that it brings them closer to God and the Saints.”

Celtic worship is a simple form of service, using simple words, meditative silences and a connection with nature.

“When you’re outside, the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world seems thinner. I love Celtic worship outdoors – it’s not the same when you hold the services in a church building.

“We’ve done a lot of work recently to make the churchyard more appealing and more wildlife-friendly. A local teenager has made bird boxes and we have a hedgehog house and have taken advice on how to make the area more appealing to invertebrates.

“We’re caring for the world, giving more people the opportunity to commune with their God in a pleasant environment. We’ve also found that even people with no faith will come to sit in the graveyard on one of the memorial benches.”

Peter is inviting people to come along and try this style of worship for themselves, along with a hot drink or even a glass of cider with cake and biscuits after the service. There are two services a month at 7 pm on the second Wednesday and the fourth Thursday.”

In other areas, people have been heading outside to pilot the new Messy Church Goes Wild – a new offering from Messy Church, in partnership with the Diocese of Gloucester. It encourages all ages to get outside, love the natural world, experience a sense of awe and wonder there and be more eco-aware in all we do, both inside and out, as gathered and dispersed church, for the good of the planet.

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