When Greg Wolford left home for college 1983 he stopped going to church.
“I don’t want to be disparaging of Southern Baptists, or any of the mainline denominations,” he says, “but I was no longer into being lectured.”
The “fire and brimstone” approach of some denominations no longer worked for Wolford. The fact is, it left him feeling numb.
“I was living life right,” he says, “but I wanted what others had, a certainty of faith.”
Knowing he was “more scientific” Wolford began a life long quest, for faith and spirituality. He didn’t attend traditional church much during his 30-year absence although he did go occasionally to special services with his family. Ironically one of the messages Wolford heard during that time resonates with him to this day.
“Basically the preacher was asking us who we were impacting—positively or negatively—with our behavior,” says Wolford. “It actually helped lead me to Wild Goose.”
As he was thinking about that message one day, of how he didn’t want to adversely impact anyone, Wolford happened upon an interview on the public radio station in Roanoke, Va.
The Rev. Edwin Lacey was talking about a new worshiping community he was leading, in a remote corner of the Appalachians in southwestern Virginia—Wild Goose Christian Community.
“Edwin was talking about this non-traditional church and worship service—built around Appalachian tradition and culture,” says Wolford. “He even talked about Celtic spirituality. I could tell his messages would be more like a discussion than a sermon.”
Wolford was drawn to what he heard. In spite of the distance—Indian Valley, where Wild Goose is located, is 55 miles from Roanoke—he made the hour and 15 minute drive the following Tuesday.
He’s rarely missed a “church” service since. When he does, he feels like his week is worse for it.
“It’s a mystery, I can’t really explain it,” says Wolford. “But I didn’t fully realizethe need I had, for my thirst to be quenched, until I went to Wild Goose. I kind of feel like I’m new grass being sown. It needs water, that’s what Wild Goose is doing for me."
The setting of Wild Goose—Lacy calls it “one of the prettiest places on the planet”— is a big part of what initially drew Wolford back to church.
But week-to-week he’s become more convinced that it is the whole package at Wild Goose that keeps him coming back: Pastor Lacy; the entire congregation nurturing one another; the activities they engaged in, like potluck suppers and square dancing; and teaching each other from the scriptures.
“To have this kind of community with others on a spiritual faith quest, I wouldn’t have thought this would’ve been possible five years ago,” says Wolford.
“I’m learning in deeper ways to respect and be kind to others, and respect integrity,” he says. “I extend invitations regularly to those I work with, when they’re ready to take the trip, and journey with me, I’ll take them up there.”