Wild churches do not own buildings; they worship outdoors. Where does such a congregation gather for an extended retreat? For Wild Church Fresno, the answer is Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. 

After two years of pandemic isolation, the group feels the need for an extended time with each other and creation. They are planning a two-day camping retreat this August–with the help of a $1000 Green Mustard Seed grant from Mennonite Creation Care Network. 

On a Wild Church hike last year, Katerina Friesen, who pastors Wild Church Fresno, learned that several members of the group had never been to Yosemite National Park. This landmark is a mere 60 miles northeast of Fresno, but barriers such as park fees, lack of camping gear and the car trip required can make access to outdoor spaces a privilege not everyone has. The grant from MCCN will provide camping gear for this and future retreats–as well as make the retreat affordable for all. 

Katerina describes the church’s context as a mixture of both beauty and pain. The region is blessed with the Sierra Nevadas, wildflowers in abundance and a diverse immigrant community. There is also much to mourn: toxic pollution caused by industrial agriculture, extreme wildfires, a water crisis, and some of the highest rates of children with asthma in the nation.

“We seek to witness to hopeful resurrection ways of living in this place–ways of loving the Creator, our neighbor, and creation in the midst of apocalyptic times,” Katerina says.

MCCN wishes them a restorative Sabbath retreat that will deepen their relationships with God, with each other, and with creation!