NEW ‘CHURCH OF THE WILD’ COMING TO EASTERN PANHANDLE Growing Movement Celebrates Spirituality in Nature
March 11, 2019
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — A new spiritual community is launching in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia this spring, but its members won’t be meeting in a church building on Sunday mornings to hear a pastor preach from a pulpit.
Church of the Wild – Two Rivers is a new community that, starting in May, will gather outdoors on camp chairs and picnic blankets under the trees and open sky to celebrate and reflect together on the sacredness of the natural world. It is named for the beautiful Harpers Ferry/Shepherdstown region, where the winding Shenandoah joins the majestic Potomac River.
“Today we have lost much of our intimate connection to the natural world,” says founder and convener Leah Rampy, a longtime leader of contemplative, Earth-focused retreats.
“What we do not know, we cannot cherish and protect, and we will not save. The Church of the Wild invites us to come home to the family of nature that has been waiting for us, to find a deeper connection to the Divine, and to take the time to hear the still small voice that is forever seeking us in love.”
Communities that seek a deeper connection with the sacred through nature are part of a larger spiritual movement around the nation and world. Many are part of the loosely affiliated Wild Church Network in the United States and Canada.
Rampy hopes that Church of the Wild – Two Rivers will attract traditional churchgoers of all religious backgrounds, as well as those who have never been part of a church, practice other faith traditions, or feel alienated from traditional religious institutions.
“We hope to supplement, not replace, more traditional practices,” Rampy says. “In fact, we schedule our meetings in order not to conflict with traditional church worship.”
Church of the Wild – Two Rivers will meet near the Potomac River on the first Sunday of every month from 3 – 5 p.m., starting Sunday, May 5. All are welcome.
◊◊◊ Church of the Wild – Two Rivers founder Leah Rampy is an experienced leader of contemplative, Earth-focused retreats and pilgrimages. She is grounded in Christian contemplative, Celtic and Creation Spirituality traditions that honor our oneness with Earth as she seeks to learn from other spiritual traditions that chart a path of oneness and compassion.
Leah served as Executive Director of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington, DC, for six years and continues to serve on the program staff. She is the founder of Illumined Way LLC, offering retreats and spiritual coaching, and serves on the boards of the Center for Spirituality in Nature in Arlington, VA, and Rolling Ridge Study Retreat Center in Harpers Ferry, WV. Leah and her husband live in Shepherdstown, WV.