In Abbeydore Deanery, young people are encountering the Word of God outdoors

Published on: 4th July 2024

Revd Luci Morriss in a tunnel in hard hat

Abbeydore Deanery's website describes their mission as "a Christian presence in every place" and for the Rural Pioneer Priests who lead the deanery, this may mean in some unusual settings! You’re as likely to find Revd Luci Morriss (pictured above) in a helmet or buoyancy aid as in a dog collar, as she leads youngsters in worship – or gorge walking and other adventurous outdoor activities – at Grow Strong, a youth programme in Abbeydore Deanery, run in conjunction with Longtown Outdoor Ed Centre. “This part of the diocese feels so wild and beautiful, young people are naturally drawn to the outdoors. They find a sense of something bigger there, something beyond themselves,” says Revd Luci, one of four Rural Pioneer Priests in the deanery. She continues, “It’s a perfect opportunity to connect with young people, while they are experiencing that sense of awe and grace, and help them to link that appreciation for Creation back to God, through scripture and liturgy.”

Her Pioneer Priest colleagues are equally adventurous. Revd Simon Lockett celebrates Hedgerow Communions,  leading a service outdoors in beautiful and remote corners of south-west Herefordshire and the borders. Publicity for the most recent mid-summer excursion, which started by the River Monnow in Clodock, urged attendees to “bring finger food, musical instruments and a swimming costume”.  The deanery’s Reflective Rambles are ‘guided walks’ with a difference – the guidance being not only literal but spiritual as well. They are less of a service, more of a walk with a theme, and include mindful moments and reflections. Says Luci, “These are particularly meaningful when we have an intergenerational group, as the young see the world with fresh eyes. It’s a joy for older walkers to witness the youngsters' sense of wonder, and in return, the older walkers share so much local knowledge and countryside lore.”

“Forest Church would be a natural extension of all this,“ says Luci. “particularly for families. Leading children in outdoor activities and, ultimately, in a form of worship that lends itself to the environment, really helps to deepen your own faith journey. All this is new for us, and you do have to be one step ahead, but in my experience, we definitely “learn with those we lead.” If you have love, and the ability to listen to what young people have to offer the church, you can build something significant together. God and the young people are showing the way in this corner of the diocese, and they’re finding each other outdoors.”

For more information on Reflective Rambles, Hedgerow Communions, Grow Strong and more, please visit the Abbeydore Deanery website.



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