“This is God’s table: Finding Church Beyond the Walls” is the name of a book written by Anna Woofenden and is about the journey she took to establish a church that was not confined by the walls of a building. In her own words “It’s the story of what happens when people garden, worship, and eat together – and invite anyone and everyone to join them.”
As the pandemic began to grip the United Kingdom and we were all getting used to being in lockdown, it was tempting to try and do everything I could to continue my ministry no matter what. But instead, I stopped, I just dropped everything and sat and allowed God to tell me what needed to be done. There were two things that God asked of me. The first, was to pick up an idea that had been mulling around in my head for about 2 years, that of a podcast. The other, was to explore how I might continue to engage with the families that were a part of the “Messy Church” that was now having to stop because of the Pandemic.
Following a Ministerial Development Zoom conference, I was led to look at Forest Church. Whilst the ideas behind being outside, and allowing Creation to guide us were somehow familiar, it didn’t really feel right. The structure felt alien. And so, I continued to pray, and to think. Then one day, I was scrolling the internet and was reminded of a project a friend of mine had started in Bristol, the “Hazelnut Community Farm”. Here was a place where community and church came together, a church plant that was welcoming to all. Whilst, I didn’t want to recreate the community farm here, it was definitely closer to what I felt God had in mind for this place and this time. I continued to pray, and slowly build ideas of what might work in this place.
Whilst all of this was going on Eco Dewi, and more especially Jeremy Wadia had been in conversation with the Cathedral about a possible garden project that would involve the community. Eventually the dots began to join together and with the help of Eco Dewi and a core team of excited people we have now begun to clear some of the Canonry Garden and are bringing together the expertise, excitement and creativity of many people. To grow what will be a community garden project that will also be a space of reflection, of creativity, of biodiversity and nature, a place of prayer, a place where we can meet and engage with children and families no matter the weather, it will be a place where we can together explore what it means to be a part of God’s Creation, what it means to be responsible for "vegetables and fruit, but share in that and experience God’s love for us, and experience the love God gives us for others, as we invite all to share in this space.
As we continued to clear and make ready the ground to start planting and allowed the garden to speak to us and guide us, I found myself becoming overwhelmed by the relationship that had already begun to grow between myself and the group, and our relationship to the garden. There is a holiness, we have allowed the garden to speak to us, not imposing our ideas upon it, but instead allowing the garden to tell us what it needs to flourish.
Today is Ash Wednesday, and as we are reminded that we are dust, so too am I reminded that we are all part of this creation, intrinsically linked to the planet by its creator, our God. This community garden space is evolving, and has already become a holy space, where all feel linked to their creator, regardless of whether or not they are Christian. It is truly a journey for us all, and one where God is at the centre.
We will aim to keep you all updated about Dewi’s Acre, about how the garden is developing and about how our theology, our understanding of what God is doing through us and through the garden is also developing, on this page of the website. We would love for you to be involved too, as soon as we are able there will be volunteering sessions, and keeping you updated here and through the Dewi’s Acre Facebook page.