Forest Church trailblazer receives creation care award

Burning Bush Forest Church Burning Bush Forest Church.

Mennonite Creation Care Network announced Dec. 23 that Wendy Janzen of Kitchener, Ont., is the 2020 recipient of its Art and Jocele Meyer Award. The annual award recognizes effective leadership in caring for the earth within congregations that relate to MCCN. It comes with a $500 award to benefit the ministries already in process.

Janzen was selected because of her work with the forest or wild church movement. She leads two forest churches: Burning Bush Forest Church and Wilmot Forest Church, both in the Kitchener-­Waterloo, Ont., area. She also plays a key leadership role with the Wild Church Network, which she helped found.

Wild or forest churches are theologically diverse but share three commonalities. They understand nature as a beloved community, not a backdrop; they are from the Christian tradition, and they seek both inner and outer transformation. Worship happens outdoors, typically year-round, sometimes on foot.

Many Mennonite churches, particularly in Canada, have sought guidance from Janzen on what it means to worship with creation and how to do it. The Wild Church Network has benefited from Janzen’s roots in Anabaptist-Mennonite theology and the disproportionate number of Mennonites who have come into this network through her.

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