A prayer pilgrimage on Good Friday has attracted more than forty people and revived interest in the rural church.
For over 30 years church members from the former Worthen benefice in South Shropshire which is part of Hereford Diocese have walked together visiting every church on Good Friday. Their churches are now divided between the Chirbury Hills and Stiperstones benefices, but walkers from both benefices still go from church to church on Good Friday, and this year was no exception.
Led by local vicars, Revd Bill Rowell and Revd Greg Smith, the group walked between the four churches, and more than a dozen hardy souls joined in a short communion service at Shepherd's Rock on the top of the Stiperstones Hills in South Shropshire. Revd Bill explained: “These are all small churches with small congregations, so the Good Friday pilgrimage is a real boost on a special day.”
The informal nature of the outdoor setting helps new people, unfamiliar with traditional church services to connect with the Easter message.
Revd Bill explains: “We start early in the morning from Middleton-in-Chirbury which is close to the Welsh border. Our day begins with a short service of morning prayer, and we have a coffee stop after the first mile or so of walking and further stops along the 15 mile route to allow those who are unable to walk the entire way to join us.
“We mark the points along the way by sharing Bible readings and prayers that fit the theme of Good Friday. Pilgrimage is of interest to lots of people who don’t regularly come to services in our churches and we always enjoy meeting new members of the local community as well as the many four legged companions who join us.”
Revd Bill added: “Good Friday is the most solemn of days but marking this by walking gives us purpose and a renewed sense that there is hope for the rural church in this sparsely populated corner of Hereford Diocese. The benefit of walking outdoors helps people to connect spiritually with the world around them and the message of hope that Easter brings. It also gives us an opportunity to invite people to join us on Sundays.”