Featured Ministry: Holy Hikes- Northeast Ohio

Featured Ministry: Holy Hikes- Northeast Ohio

Holy Hikes- Northeast Ohio has been hiking under Director Rev. Dr. Marilyn Matevia’s guidance since September 2017, when she was beginning her candidacy for ordination. The ministry followed her through church consolidations and installation as a pastor – initially sponsored by Faith Lutheran Church in Lakewood, OH which consolidated with Our Savior’s in Rocky River to become Good Soil Lutheran Ministries and then by Celebration Lutheran Church in Chardon Ohio in October 2021 upon her installation. Holy Hikes- Northeast Ohio hikes monthly, moving the hikes around the region to experience all the area has to offer and to reach more participants, and even includes dogs when allowed. Rev. Dr. Matevia shares more about the ministry, their hikes and liturgies, and her hope that more people find the ministry when they need it:

Hiking with Northeast Ohio

Our hikes are easy-to-moderate in intensity, and usually 1.5 miles to 2 miles in length. We prefer trails to all-purpose surfaces, and we move the hike every month, to sample regional county and state parks and to make it more enticing to far-flung participants. If dogs are allowed in the park, they are welcome on our hikes (on leash). We hike on the last Saturday of each month. We cancel only for temperatures under 25 degrees, steady rain, and/or lightning. We enjoy such a lovely variety of hiking trails in northeast Ohio that it would be hard to pick a “favorite” location, but we do enjoy the occasions when our hiking routes take us past bodies of water.

We follow a typical Lutheran liturgy in the structure of the service, but we take the opportunity to introduce alternate creeds (such as the Maasai creed) or prayers (such as the Lord’s Prayer from the New Zealand Book of Prayer), that we wouldn’t necessarily use in Sunday worship. The group has chosen not to include hymns in the Holy Hikes services, preferring to let the creation around us do the singing.

Favorite Hiking Location and Memory

As for a specific memory, I guess I would point to two – but they happen repeatedly. I begin each hike with a short sensing/centering ritual and prayer that people seem to enjoy. I can see them relax and shake off the drive and prepare for the hike. And following communion, I’ve noticed that many people are moved by the ritual of returning the remaining elements to the forest around us.

In the Year to Come

The hiking groups tend to vary in size from month to month… from 6 to 10 or occasionally 12. Facebook has been a very good way of connecting with people to whom this kind of service speaks. I’ve also dropped off Holy Hikes postcards at area hiking stores and coffee shops. I guess my ongoing hope is that more people find us when they need us!