Utah because of its exotic scenery and mild weather (even in winter) is an ideal locale to enjoy “outdoor churching,” a permutation of home (or house) churching. The idea is to get a small non-demoninational group together and make pilgrimages to locales like: the Spiral Jetty, the Sun Tunnels, Clarion, Topaz, Horseshoe Canyon, and Gilgal Garden. Each represents a unique man/nature interface that is sure to inspire meditation of some variety. When you get to your pilgrimage site, spend an hour and get to know the surrounding environment, discuss the site’s history and significance, hold hands and have a group prayer, have everyone make a wish, have a group activity, and/or have a picnic.
“Home churching” is a growing phenomenon among some Christian groups. It boils down to small, self-guided groups meeting in a home rather than in a formal church building. Their flexibility is their advantage: they can accomodate divergent time demands; they can convene around the sick or death bed of a member or associate; they can undertake humanitarian initiatives on a short turn around. Their potential mobility is a huge asset.
An alterntive or adjunct to home churching is “outdoor churching,” small non-denominational groups, with a strong interest in the environment, making pilgrimages to various locales with artistic, religious, or historic significance. In Utah it could involve “bonding” activities in the West Desert or in a red rock canyon. Possible locales for “outdoor churching” include:
Spiral Jetty: Located in northern Utah, south of Promontory, this artistic endeavor can be visited almost year round. It may or may not be submerged by the Great Salt Lake. Watch out for rattlesnakes.
Sun Tunnels: This piece of monumental art, constructed by the wife of the Spiral Jetty artist, is best visited during a solstice, expect a small crowd. It is located 50 miles north of Wendover.
Clarion: About all that is left of this abandoned Jewish agricultural colony are two lonely graves located on a knoll overlooking the Sevier River. This makeshift cemetary is located west of the town of Centerfield, across the Sevier River. The graves appear to be located on private property so be respectful.
Topaz: There are scant remains of this World War II Japanese internment camp. It is located west of the city of Delta. Try to image living in poorly constructed barracks during a windy Utah winter.
Horseshoe Canyon: This red rock canyon contains some of the most spectacular pictographs in the world. This adjunct to Canyonland NP is located south of Green River and east of Goblin Valley. Hiking required.
Gilgal Garden: This sculptural garden, located near Trolley Square in the middle of a Salt Lake City block, is a testament to one man’s religion and vision.
Before going to any of these locations be sure and do a little homework. All except Gilgal and Clarion are located in very isolated areas. Be prepared.