This August we were invited to attend ‘Wide Open‘ so we packed our bags, got on a train and set out on a journey to Yorkshire. We didn’t know what to expect but we knew it would be something special, and we weren’t wrong. Three days tucked away in the forest, surrounded by passionate visionaries and creatives, sharing meals and laughs. At night we sat around the fire and during the day took part in a variety of workshops. We skipped small talk and went into deep, challenging conversations. The strangers that met on Friday night became friends by Sunday. Everyone with different skills, but with the same heart for Jesus.
A bit of time away from the busyness of our different routines, and the noise helped our soul. We quickly realized how much we need this.
Beth Webber – creator of this camp – shares about the heart behind this idea in the interview below.
Beth, tell us a little bit about you.
I run a small outdoor learning and events company called Forest Found based in the North of England-so I spend a lot of my time gathering people together in beautiful green spaces. I feel passionate about what the outdoors have to offer and love creating opportunities for people to experience being outside in unique and exciting ways. My work is pretty varied from running learning programmes to support teenage girls, putting on outdoor dining events and organising gatherings like Wide Open but at the heart of it all is a desire to showcase God’s creation.
What is Wide Open?
Wide Open is a new weekend gathering for Christian creatives that seeks to explore what it looks like to live out our creativity in a way that glorifies God. It offers folk the chance to build community round a campfire, be encouraged and affirmed in their gifting and to engage with the challenges we face in our creative culture.
Where did the idea for this camp come from?
I felt there was a real need to offer creatives an intimate authentic space to build relationships and to hear and learn from others who are trying to build creative businesses or develop their creative practice whilst honouring God in the process.
Campfire conversations, eating together, worshipping under big skies-it’s just a beautiful combination that inevitably draws us to the Lord and to one another.
Now that the first gathering has ended what is one highlight from the weekend?
Lucy (Lucy Grimble) leading us in worship as the sun set behind the trees was pretty incredible. The tangible presence of God in those wide open spaces remind you that you’re on holy ground. It was amazing.
Authenticity is vital if we are to have an impact on the world.
What sort of feedback have you received (if any) from the weekend?
I think people were really grateful for the space that Wide Open created. Time to breathe, think, play, explore, talk and pray. It’s effect has definitely continued to echo and reverberate for people.
Why do you think it’s important to spend time in nature, especially for creatives?
I guess as visionaries, dreamers and makers we need spaces that promote creativity and Nature offers the purest form of inspiration. The beauty of the outdoors takes us back to the source of who God is, back to what he created and to who he says we are.
What is one of the things you find particularly important for Christians to do/be today?
Being real about our daily fight to fix our gaze on Jesus and challenging what the world says about success and identity-especially as creative people.
What do you think the Church needs right now?
Bold passionate people who want to chase hard after God. And maybe more time outside…