Outdoor services to bring church-goers closer to nature

Reverend Fraser Edwards hopes the outdoor church services will help people connect with 'outside beauty'.

Outdoor services to bring church-goers closer to nature SWNS

A minister plans to hold services outside in a forest in a bid to help parishioners connect with the great outdoors.

Reverend Fraser Edwards, 42, has become the new minister at Innerleithen Traquair and Walkerburn Parish Church (ITW) in the Scottish Borders.

He is part of a group called Forest Church, which draws on older traditions when sacred places and practices were outside.

The former IT specialist from Edinburgh said he hopes the forest services will help people connect with ‘outside beauty’.

Mr Edwards said: “It is a privilege to have been called to be ITW’s minister and I am looking forward to the adventure of faith in following Jesus together.

“The parish is in an area of such natural beauty that I hope, in time, to explore a fresh expression of church to take place outdoors.

“I’ve become part of a small group exploring ‘Forest Church’ and I’m keen to see ways that people can connect the wonder and beauty that we all see in creation with the God who made it all and who cares for us.”

ITW Parish Church has not had a full-time minister since July 2018 when Reverend Janice Faris retired.

Covid restrictions meant only Mr Edwards and three members of Melrose and Peebles Presbytery attended his ordination at Innerleithen Church.

His primary school teacher wife, Fiona, their two children, Anna, 13, and Matthew, seven, watched on Zoom.

Mr Edwards, who attended Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh for 15 years, said the congregation has embraced technology while the church is closed.

He said: “A background in IT and a degree in theology seem to be a fairly good combination of skills in the current life of online church,” he added.

“We have started online services followed by a post-church Zoom coffee time.”

Mr Edwards and his family are still living in Edinburgh and hope to move to the Scottish Borders as soon as possible.

He said: “I’ll be spending time on Zoom and telephone calls until I’m allowed to travel to the parish freely.

“It’s definitely not easy to get to know people this way but I’ve had such a warm welcome from the people of ITW.

“At a time like this it’s important to keep everyone safe.”

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