Happy New Year from Mountain Pilgrims!
One of the many observations of life over the last couple of years, as we’ve seen how people have coped during these unusual and often isolated times, has been the positive impact of time spent outdoors on people’s well-being. Maybe you’ve even noticed it in yourself, how time spent outside with the rest of the natural world has improved your mood, given you space to breathe and relieved some of your worries.
Of course, this is not new knowledge – alongside many others, those of us who founded Mountain Pilgrims did so out of the experience that the outdoors was the place where we felt most alive and liberated and, in conversation with our Christian faith, interpreted that experience as a strong suggestion that God, the source of life and liberty, was to be encountered in the outdoors too.
The ‘Mountain’ in Mountain Pilgrims could be misleading. The mountains is where we started and it resonates with our Cumbrian roots, but today we are about being pilgrims more generally in the outdoors. We are pilgrims in as much that we go into nature, whether a garden, churchyard, a park or the mountains, with a sense of expectation of God being revealed and us encountering God in our journeying and exploring. We believe and experience that God ministers to us through nature, and we choose to open ourselves to and to join in with that ministry. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that being outdoors does people good!
Even pre-COVID, winter was often a time of great isolation, from other people and the rest of the natural world, for many in our communities as darkness and unfavourable weather keep us indoors. Coupled with the further limitations and safety concerns of meeting indoors maybe, contrary to our human nature which would rather have us indoors by a fire, maybe now is an ideal time for your church to consider doing something outdoors – maybe even still around a fire!
Some of the most common comments of feedback after a Mountain Pilgrims gathering is people saying that they wouldn’t have bothered going out on their own, but they’re so glad that they joined what we’d organised. They also say that the positive impact of time outdoors spreads beyond the event itself and into the next few days too. There are people in our church and wider community who are waiting for someone to invite them out to join in with something, even if just for half an hour.
If this resonates with you, or if you are simply looking for a new way of engaging with your church and wider community, then please contact Mountain Pilgrims via Paul Rose firstname.lastname@example.org We have resources available that would provide a simple format for you to be able to easily invite people to gather together outdoors to connect and encounter God.
Pioneer Enabler: Outdoors and Education