Methodist Women in Britain (MWiB) has offered pilgrimage over the past few years in a number of ways, all open to any women with an interest in Christian spirituality. Former MWiB President Jill Baker co-ordinates this area of activity.
MWiB pilgrimages to date have been
- Walking pilgrimages between Durham and Lindisfarne
- Pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine
- Pilgrimage to Rome in March 2019 (this is fully booked)
Latest: Walking pilgrimage in Scotland
- In August 2018 Jill Baker and Gillian Womersley were part of a pilot Scottish Pilgrim route between Glasgow and Whithorn involving around 50 miles walking plus public transport.
- The route engaged with Methodism in Scotland now, as well as exploring something of the religious history of the land, especially the lives of St. Mungo and St. Ninian.
- Jill and Gillian hope to take a group from MWiB on this route in 2020. More details will be posted here when available.
- A report of the pilot pilgrimage can be found here.
- In 1061 the Lady of the Manor had a vision of Mary along with instructions to build the Nazareth house in Walsingham. A spring appeared and a shrine grew up, often known as "England's Nazareth".
- Walsingham has an Anglican shrine (with a large residential centre and facilities) and a Roman Catholic shrine based at the "Slipper Chapel" a mile away and receives many Anglican and Roman Catholic pilgrims.
- Walsingham Methodist chapel (the oldest Methodist chapel still in use in East Anglia) is open regularly during the tourist season as part of the local tradition of offering hospitality/encounter. The small Methodist congregation there is exploring what else Methodism can offer.
- Rev. Adam Stevenson and other Methodists have been involved in pilgrimage to Walsingham through the Ecumenical Marian Pilgrimage Trust www.ecumenicalmarianpilgrimage.org.uk/
- Potential exists for exploring vocation (Mary as a woman who said "yes"); being a woman in the Christian church; Family life...
- Rev. Simon Topping organised and led a pilgrimage to Tolpuddle for young adults in 2015, which highlighted the social justice issues relating to the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, linking that with current employment justice issues.
- The original Methodist chapel where the Tolpuddle Martyrs worshipped has been bought by a trust to be renovated and restored, which could generate interest.
- There is a small handful of Methodists there.
- An annual event takes place in Tolpuddle, organised by the TUC, in which the Methodist district (Southampton) plays a part and has a presence.
Other activities/anecdotes which have, or could have, an element of pilgrimage
- Good Friday/Palm Sunday (& other) walks of witness - especially praying in significant places (link to "healing on the streets"?)
- "Green walks" with environmental focus.
- Days out... e.g. (as practised in Darlington district) - a coach trip with young people to climb a mountain, have communion at summit, descend then go out for meal together - a day pilgrimage!
- Local Methodist Church Walking Club - Observation that one church which has held monthly walks on a Saturday for decades now has a much larger percentage of men in the congregation than the national average.
- Prayer walks around a church building - using prayer stations/prayer journeys. This can offer a form of pilgrimage to those who would be unable to engage in a walk/journey of any length. Use of labyrinth can offer similar opportunities - even finger labyrinth done in chair for those without mobility (see more under Resources).
- Walking the Keills in the Isle of Man - or similar parish walks/beating the bounds.
- Walking within a local circuit - Walks between churches meeting for prayer, worship (& usually refreshment) in different churches and walking between the buildings, inviting the members (& others) to come along and tell the story of the area. Experience in Glasgow where this has given rise to meaningful and moving conversations.
- Bus route pilgrimage - use bus passes/day tickets to travel an entire bus route, stopping off at any churches on the route (for refreshments); praying for the city/town/community as you go.
Methodist Heritage sites (or any Methodist buildings/sites in your locality) could give rise to pilgrimage, perhaps in conjunction with Methodist Heritage. There is interest around in developing long-distance pilgrimage routes to the key sites, not least amongst partner churches overseas. If you would be interested in working on this (or already are) - do share your findings (email firstname.lastname@example.org)!