St Michael and All Angels, Bishop’s Cleeve, mark the anniversary of their first outdoor Sunday morning gathering on Cleeve Hill.
Lucy Barbour, Trainee Pioneer Minister, said:
“In the aftermath of the pandemic lockdowns, in July 2021, we recognised that some people still felt uncomfortable coming into the church building. We wanted to offer something that connected to our vision of Living Well in Body, Mind and Spirit, which incorporates aspects of nature and our environment, so we came up with Church on the Hill.
“The gathering is as simple as the name. We meet at the same place by Cleeve Hill Golf Club café on the second Sunday of the month. Cleeve Hill is a stunning location and is a place that many of our worshipping community already go to, to reflect and pray. It felt natural to choose it as a space to run an outdoor gathering.
“The informal service is open to all, and a number in the group have not been into a church building for a while or are new to faith. We have a short time of prayer and the Revd Malc Allen or I will speak for a few minutes on a topic linked to faith, life and very often the nature that we are surrounded by. There are so many lessons that we can learn about God from nature, as we know from the Bible. We are not even close to running out of options for reflections. It has also been amazing to see how the seasons and weather have influenced our reflections and although it was cold up on the hill in the winter, there was a great deal that we learned about ourselves and God during this time.”
One regular attender of Church on the Hill commented:
“I appreciate these mornings because it appeals to people that wouldn’t normally go to into a church. I can be with the church family in a lovely, relaxed way. I find it is easier to chat, but at the same time am reminded of God’s goodness and His amazing creation.”
The gathering is promoted through the church’s website and Facebook group, and they also have a dedicated WhatsApp group for people to keep in touch, which has become another way to connect and share creation-related reflections and activities.
Lucy continues: “There has always been a keen group of people who have attended, so much so that they asked us to continue through the winter. We have met most months through the past year, I think only cancelling once due to heavy frost. It was wonderful to celebrate a year of this gathering on such a beautiful, sunny day last Sunday.”