“Holy Ground” at Oak Flat Campground
San Carlos Apache Tribe. For nearly two decades the San Carlos Apaches have been fighting to protect lands they consider sacred.
Oak Flat, just 70 miles east of Phoenix, a few miles beyond Superior on Highway 60, is a place of great natural beauty that is popular among rock climbers and campers. The San Carlos Apaches consider Oak Flat to be sacred, ancestral land, the site of traditional Apache ceremonies. But Oak Flat also sits on top of one of the world’s largest deposits of copper ore. Resolution Copper Mining, a subsidiary of British-Australian mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, has sought ownership of the land for a decade, lobbying Congress to enact special legislation on its behalf. In December, the legislation was quietly passed into law as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
Holy Ground / Forest Church
When people from a variety of faith traditions are asked, “When and where do you feel closest to the Holy?” few say, “Sitting inside a building listening to sermons, reciting scripture and praying.” From African Traditional to Zoroastrian, a majority affirm that the most powerful and memorable encounters with Mystery happen outside, sitting by the ocean or a stream, on top of a mountain, walking through the desert, hiking in the woods, gazing at the stars at night, feeling the warmth of the sun or enjoying a cool breeze by day. In fact, most of our sacred scriptures can be seen as secondary source material that recounts the primary experience of encountering the presence of God in nature outside the four walls of our worship spaces.
Holy Ground/Forest Church provides participants with activities, simple songs and chants, interfaith rituals, and first-hand experiences that have been tested outdoors in the mountains of northern Arizona (“Forest Church”) and in the deserts of Central Arizona (“Holy Ground”).