I am very certain of my calling in this world, and of my place within it. My purpose is to create space to hold the celebration and the grieving of the community and all its sacred occasions and seasons within a liturgical framework. Ritual and liturgy are fundamental to who we are as humans. The first art ever produced by humanity, cave drawings of buffalo dated 36,000 years ago… was produced in a ritual ceremony. Ritual and liturgy is necessary as a container for self-reflection, internalization of the deeper values of the community, and the kind of social cohesion that leads to unified, collective action. That is what I am called to, trained for, and good at.
Columbia County, New York is my home. I planted roots here. Quite literally. My children’s placenta are both planted beneath apple and cherry orchards that we began in our backyard. I made a decision 3 years ago while exploring a call to another church in which I would never have to worry about job security that I wasn’t going to compromise the direction God is leading me for financial security. And I’ve known for quite some time that my congregation, while growing and giving more than ever before, can no longer afford 100% of my time. They’re healthy in every way except financially. Which is also a sign of health in and of itself – that we attract people of all income levels including people on assistance and or even find themselves homeless.
Nevertheless, this year I began work at the church at 5/6 time, next year I will be ¾ or even ½ time. And while I’ve prayed to God for years, “whats next?” and gone through all sorts of discernment about what kind of “side hustle” might help put food on the table and pay school tuition, I have come to the conclusion that I have a tremendous gift of time that I can utilize to share my gifts with others for free. And come what may. I yearn to be an integrated self and to bring my passion, creativity, spirituality, love for nature, and activism together in one project.
I know that my calling is to Columbia County, NY. And I know that I am called to gather people together in spiritual community; to liturgize and give voice to our deepest impulses for good, to explore their Source, and to become more firmly bonded together in the process. I am called to people who wouldn’t otherwise participate in “church” as it is. And to provide an alternative opportunity.
Thus my vision for Earth Church came about. I asked myself “what kind of church would I want to attend? And have available to me locally here in the place that I love? What would be compelling to me and feed my soul?” The answer was a church in nature. And a spiritual community that is totally anti-institutional. A spiritual community with no building that generates electricity bills and burns oil and has a board that oversees it, and whose time is consumed by fixing boilers, writing budgets, and paying bills. A church that isn’t a burden and won’t burn us out but rather energize us for the struggle for justice. A place where people of all backgrounds can feel free to explore their connectedness to God and Creation without judgment - this is the next phase of my spiritual and vocational calling. My vision is for a completely non-institutional church; a church that doesn’t compromise integrity for efficiency or its own survival; a church that cultivates awe by re-locating the Sacred outside of brick and mortar buildings and back into God’s good Creation…
Earth Church is primarily inspired by the Earthschooling movement, where children explore the outdoors every day regardless of seasonal challenges. Winter worship around the fire. Summer worship out under the sun. I am immensely grateful to Jody Bolluyt for allowing us the opportunity to explore our belonging to Creator and Creation in this context.
I hope you will come and help shape this vision as a place where your spirit might be renewed to faithfully live out our collective calling to preserve the Creation. All are welcome!