For centuries, people have worshiped in hallowed spaces of brick or wood, with sunlight streaming through colored glass and music swelling to arched ceilings.
But what of the hallowed spaces of glens or rolling hills, with sunlight streaming through foliage and music swelling to heaven itself?
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Elk River attempts to bring people back to the latter space with the annual outdoor “green” worship service. The service was held on Aug. 5 this year.
“We have made a conscious effort to focus on the environment and on the Earth and creation,” the Rev. Rob Cavanna said. “It’s really quite poignant and inspirational, we think.”
The service, which was open to guests and people of all faiths and denominations, was held on the west lawn and featured a liturgy surrounding creation, the environment, reducing pollutants, recycling and more with wording, hymns and songs related to nature. Music was provided by a contemporary choir and band as well as a harp.
Cavanna said it’s the seventh year the church has done the service.
“I think there has always been an interest in the environment, and I think climate change and all of those different movements kind of meld together in people’s minds,” Cavanna said. “It was the consensus that we wanted to be doing something and using this worship as a motivational tool, so to speak, to get people to be more conscious, not littering, conserving energy.”
Religion and caring for the environment are “inseparable,” Cavanna said.
“Creation is God’s doing, and we’re all God’s creatures,” Cavanna said. “We’re here on Earth not to destroy it, but to conserve it. … We need to be better stewards of those kinds of things, and it fits naturally the mission of the church to be better stewards and more accountable for the land and what we leave future generations.”
People often forget about conservation, Cavanna said.
“We all need to be reminded every now and then of our role in preserving Earth,” Cavanna said. “Oftentimes we perhaps forget about our legacy and the fact we should be mindful of preserving nature and treating God’s creatures as humanely as possible.”
The church also does a blessing of animals in October, which ties to the idea of treating creatures kindly, Cavanna said.
“One person alone can’t solve all the world’s environment problems, but in a corner of the world, we can do something,” Cavanna said.