Our Bishops and their Diocesan Pilgrimage

02/06/2017

Starting on Palm Sunday, Bishops Christine and Mark undertook a four-day pilgrimage around the Diocese. They were joined by people from the communities they visited, who either met them at the churches, or walked with them.

The routes were planned to take in as much of the Diocese as possible, while being manageable and sensible. As a result, they visited eight out of our twelve deaneries, and called in on a number of parishes currently in vacancy. They followed some of the most obviously beautiful paths in the region, such as the stunning coastal path between Embleton and Alnmouth, but also travelled through urban Tyneside, visiting places such as Balkwell, Wallsend and Byker.

Recently, the Link editorial team caught up with the bishops, and asked them about what made them think of doing a pilgrimage, and what it meant to them. Here is what they said:

Bishop Christine: Bishop Mark and I wanted to do something together to express our shared responsibility and care for the people of this wonderful Diocese of Newcastle.  We are both keen walkers, and so a pilgrimage walk seemed the right thing to do. A physical walk is a wonderful way of discovering more about the journey of life and faith. Particularly because, although there is a personal element to faith, it is also a journey that we go on in companionship and communion with other people.
Bishop Mark: For me it was the walking, praying, visiting, and spending time with people and communities. God’s love is not contained within the walls of any church; it is living, free, unpredictable, adventurous, and constantly seeking the lost. We need to be out in our communities, serving and always pointing to Jesus. The pilgrimage was a small symbol of the great truth that God is alive and active in our communities.

For Bishop Christine, the pilgrimage was a chance not just to walk, but to stop along the way and talk with people, asking them about their joys and sorrows, their fears and hopes for the future. For Bishop Mark, the pilgrimage was also a poignant prayer journey.

Bishop Christine: In addition, we have recently launched our renewed vision and strategy. This vision is the beginning of an adventure, not the end.  And so, like pilgrims, we are on a journey together as a Diocese. The new vision is summed up in just four words: growing church bringing hope. This expresses a deep longing to see our worshipping communities growing in numbers, in prayer and discipleship, in serving our communities, and above all in making a difference - sharing the hope we have, which is the power of God to transform us and our world.
Bishop Mark: For me personally, it was a really prayerful way to reflect on the events of Holy Week and prepare for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I loved meeting many different people along the way, and praying in many different churches around the Diocese. The whole thing was a great prayer journey around this fantastic Diocese.

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