Alternative worship in Norwich church
, an alternative worship event run by the community of St Augustine's church
is preparing for it's 10th
event by celebrating the Christian traditions of the beginning of Lent on February 25. Heather Cracknell
After a year of events marking the Christian festivals and other significant times on the calendar Ambient Wonder has become a fortnightly event in the community's worship life.
The group's website
outlines “Ambient wonder is a group of people ... working out our faith and expressing it in a way that isn't your usual hymns and sermons kind of church. If you want to give us a label then emerging church
or alternative worship
might be appropriate. Very simply, emerging church is about doing church differently - engaging with and expressing the culture of which we are a part. Alternative worship is about being different to your stereotypical church - you won't find a preacher, hymns and the like. Ambient wonder deliberately removes power from an individual at the front. It's about multi-sensory experience, creativity and encountering God in different ways.”
Nicholas Vesey, vicar of St Augustine's, says: “we want to provide opportunities to enable people to worship God in their own way. The more prescriptive 'one service meets all needs' approach applies less and less and we're finding that our role as a community is to empower others to run their own services in a way that suits them. That's not to say there's not a place for traditional ways of organising our Christian services, but we want to enable all of us to express our spirituality in our own unique God-given way.”
Characteristics of the events are space to move around the room; opportunities to create or write; multi-sensory stimulation including art, quotations, Bible passages and contemporary music; meditation; eating and chatting together and perhaps most important an expectation that people have lots to contribute to our collective journey towards a God-filled life.
One of the regular community members describes Ambient Wonder by saying “it’s not a service, it’s an experience”, while another says “I have found that Ambient Wonder gives me the space to explore for myself, rather than be driven through to an end result ... Over the sessions our view of 'worship' is somehow changed. It becomes something we enter into, rather than do - more being than doing.”
Dates for future events are confirmed until Easter: 25th February celebrating the start of Lent, 11th March exploring 'Finding God in Barren Places', 25th March on 'Suffering and Sacrifice' and a Good Friday event on 6th April. All events will be held at the Norwich Christian Meditation Centre, St Augustine's Hall (except Good Friday – venue to be confirmed).
Pictured above is a previous Ambient Wonder event.