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A group of Lancashire pilgrims embarks of a voyage of discovery from today as they head to the middle east for a two-week odyssey following in the footsteps of Jesus.

The Archdeacon of Blackburn, The Venerable Mark Ireland, together with his wife Gill Ireland (pictured at the Sea of Galilee on a previous trip) will lead 36 pilgrims drawn from across the diocese on a pilgrimage with a difference. Others from Dioceses across the country will also be joining the group.

During the two weeks’ journey across Holy Lands the Archdeacon will update a blog with written reports and occasional short videos.

The Pilgrimage will visit well-known sites associated with the ministry of Jesus in Galilee, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and will also take in the Kingdom of Jordan, sometimes called ‘the other Holy Land’ by pilgrims.

Here, the group will renew their baptismal vows at the actual place of Jesus’ baptism and they will also stand on Mount Nebo, looking out over the Promised Land, as Moses did over 3000 years ago.

The Lancashire pilgrims are …

  • Judith Bennett – Read and Simonstone
  • Kenneth Winterburn – Feniscowles, Immanuel
  • John and Patricia Massey – Baxenden, St John
  • Mike and Gill Chew – Hoddlesden
  • Eric and Audrey France – Wrightington
  • Bob and Christine Berry – St Laurence, Chorley
  • Paul and Pam Daunton – Samlesbury St Leonard
  • Melanie Crangle – St John, Sandylands
  • Rev. Carolyn Woodcock – St John, Sandylands
  • Rev. Susan Seed – Slyne with Hest
  • John and Judith Pearson – Feniscowles

On their journey they will also pass through the stunning remains of Petra, which at the time of Jesus, was a magnificent city of commerce. The ruins will be familiar to many who have never visited as they often pop up in blockbuster movies such as the third Indiana Jones film.

The pilgrims are also staying in Bethlehem, which is under the governance of the Palestinian authority, and now separated from Jerusalem by a very imposing wall or security barrier. They return on October 7.

The ultimate aim of the pilgrimage will be to read and reflect on the events recorded in the Scriptures in the places where they happened and grow in discipleship as followers of Jesus.

Speaking today, Archdeacon Mark said: “We will meet with local Christians, often described as the ‘living stones’ and will seek to understand what it means to live as a follower of Jesus amid the complex realities of life in Israel, Palestine and Jordan today.”

“We will see some amazing artefacts, such as a Galilean fishing boat from the time of Jesus and hear about recent archaeological discoveries. This will be quite an active journey, with a walk in the desert and a clamber through Hezekiah’s tunnel.

The Archdeacon added: “We also plan to visit one of the very ancient Christian monasteries still in existence, and to reflect on the place of the desert in Christian spirituality. Please pray for us, that we will come back deepened in faith, having walked in the footsteps of Jesus.”



Ronnie Semley, September 2019