Written by Grethe Lystad Johnsen, Cathrine Grutle, Sigurd Andreas Widvey Haugen and Bjørg Marie Myhre
On Thursday 14th July, four travellers from Norway were picked up at Edinburgh airport. Not regular tourists, but vicars from Møre diocese, Newcastle’s friendship diocese in Norway. Since the year 2000 our two dioceses have visited each other many times, to learn from each other, to support one another, and to help each other to see that we are parts of something larger than ourselves.
While writing this article, the news about the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II reached us, and we want to share our compassion in your grief over your Queen.
Building friendship between people is always an important part of these visits and we were deeply moved by how we were welcomed. Shared meals, prayers and important discussions makes our relationship stronger.
One of our highlights was a meeting about pilgrimage. In Norway, the pilgrim routes are getting more focus and have been upgraded in recent years. A few years ago, the coast pilgrim route through our diocese was opened. Still, we struggle with the connection between an ecclesiastical pilgrimage walk and a more secular walk, so to hear from the group working with St Cuthbert’s Way was inspiring.
Our visit included a trip to Holy Island. To walk on this island was a special experience. Its history is remarkable and it was interesting to see how the church lives alongside tourism, challenging people who walk through its doors to reflect.
We visited Newcastle Cathedral to talk about and see the extensive volunteer work, for a Tower tour, and for a Sunday service. This year, volunteer work has been given extra focus in Norway and ways of recruiting, managing and inspiring our volunteers are important topics.
We would like to thank you for your hospitality, and we look forward to seeing you again.