A fresh expressions family group in the Peak Circuit is taking mission to a whole new level when they celebrated Camping Sunday.
Just over 20 people gathered as part of Seedlings & Groundbreakers and pitched tents, played games, worshipped and shared a meal outside St John's Parish Church in Tideswell.
Karen Perry, Children and Families Worker for the Peak Circuit explained: "I came across the tradition of Camping Sunday in the United Church of Canada, which takes place annually on the 4th Sunday in April. Camping is one of the biggest youth ministries in the United Church and each summer thousands of children and youth across Canada come together to be in relationship in community, with creation and with God. On Camping Sunday churches celebrate and give thanks for camping ministry.
"Taking inspiration from this I decided to have our own 'Camping Sunday' on the 4th Sunday in April to similarly celebrate the benefits of camping and how it can help build relationships with each other, creation and God.
"Everyone gathered to 'set up camp' which ranged from 4 birth camping tents to play tents in a large circle around a 'campfire' (the children collected twigs and placed them around a candle which we lit as part of our worship later on). We set up and lit a couple of BBQ's for our brunch and people also brought outdoor games for everyone to play.
"We gathered around the 'camp fire' for a time of worship where I introduced the theme of camping Sunday and invited everyone to share their experiences of camping, talking about how it can be a great way to take time out in God's creation and to draw closer to God, but also to grow in fellowship together. We lit the worship candle and the children read several lines form Psalm 104 'Praise to God who made the world'. I followed this with an interactive message about respecting and valuing life in all its diversity, that God has made everything for a purpose (even slugs and wasps!), and as his children we are all valued and loved equally by God then we stood up and sang 'Our God is a great big God'.
"I had lots of positive feedback during and after the morning – everyone had really enjoyed themselves. It was great opportunity to build relationships with each other (working together to pitch the tents, and the cooking of food, and fellowship), with creation (in spending time outdoors) and with God (though our worship time).
"It was also a great opportunity for witness, based on where we were located, in the centre of Tideswell, for people to see families worshipping together. We are now looking at organising an overnight camp at a local campsite."