Since 2014 – our centenary year - I have set aside a few days each year to walk around the diocese. I have found these walks enormously enjoyable and I believe they have been a blessing to many others who have joined me and are many parishes I had visited. I have always called them missionary journeys, not walks or pilgrimages. My hope has been to make journeys around the diocese that will provide opportunities for the local church to be encouraged in its mission and ministry and for the gospel to be proclaimed. Indeed, my prayer at the start of each day is that God would open a door if opportunity for the gospel to be shared. Those prayers have been answered in abundance.
In 2019 three more walks are planned. The full details will be on the website in due course. Although there is a particular invitation for local Christians to join me for some, or all of the walk, anyone is welcome to come along. Last year several people from different parts of the diocese turned up. It would also be good for the churches I am visiting along the way to see this journey as an opportunity for them to put on some sort of evangelistic event. So, for instance, in quite a few parishes people have been invited to come and meet me at the allotted time that I will be with them (and for the most part we have kept the schedule!) and then we have had some sort of short “quiz the Bishop“ session. These have usually gone very well. Other parishes have included a brief visit to a school or residential home. In theory, all things are possible. Please liaise with Nick Ellis, my trusted companion on the road, and the person who has been responsible for organising every single one of the walks I have undertaken.
Nick Ellis adds:
It has been a great privilege, over the last five years, to coordinate these journeys for Bishop Stephen. In those years over 160 parishes have been visited and walked nearly 300 miles. Three journeys are planned for 2019 and as Essex has the longest coastline of any county it is intendedthat all three journeys have a water front element.
- Sunday 12thMay – St. Osyth and Witham Deaneries, hopefully including a boat journey to Mersea
- Thursday 20thJune – Riverside parishes in Newham and Barking & Dagenham Deaneries
- Wednesday 11thSeptember – we finish the journeys for 2019by revisiting Southend Deanery which was the location of the first Missionary Journey in 2014
At the moment all these details are provisional and (apart from the dates) are subject to change. For any queries my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org