North Wales Jubilee Pilgrimage completed

On Saturday 1 October, walkers set off for the final leg of the Jubilee Pilgrimage from Wrexham to Penmaenmawr – a motley crew. Somehow this walk embodied all the walks that had gone before. The twenty or so folk, represented not just different URC churches in the region, but four different denominations. 

Our route took us up from the picturesque castle town of Conwy, to Sychnant Pass and then across the lower slopes of Snowdonia National Park. It was a bright blustery day and this was certainly not a ‘walk in the park’. Between gasps for breath we told our stories. As we walked, our different church structures, worship styles, theologies, all disappeared in the background. Instead we found common ground through sharing our own real life stories, our hopes and dreams, our struggles with life, with church, with faith.

Our lunch spot was on the bank of a flowing mountain stream in the shelter of a drystone wall on the south side of Foel Lus. The moment, the gathering, the setting was very poignant. Someone spoke out:

The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths,
bringing honour to his name. (Psalm 23:1-3)

The climb of nearly 1500 feet had been tough, the wind was fierce, and we didn’t all have the most suitable footwear. But as we sat and shared our lunch, we realised how, through our openness to travelling together on this path, God had brought us together in a place of refuge and refreshment.

It was our delight to realise that as churches, we are not left to struggle alone in the face of an ever changing and seemingly indifferent world. We have brothers and sisters in Christ on our doorsteps, with whom we can share our joys, pray together and explore new ways of speaking Jesus’ love into our communities. We were welcomed at Penmaenmawr United Church with bowls of warming soup, mountains of cake and steaming mugs of tea.

The North Wales Jubilee Celebrations concluded on Sunday 2 October at the church in Penmaenmawr with worship led by Revd Nick Sissons and Revd Julia Bartholomew. After the service, over a cup of coffee and the last few pieces of cake, a weary member of the host team exclaimed, ‘I am so glad that we have shared this weekend. It has been amazing.’

In total, 94 people representing 12 different churches, and four furry friends, took part in the pilgrimage which started at Wrexham on 23 July. Every Saturday over 11 weeks, pilgrims of all ages travelled by foot, bus, train and car from one church to the next of the 12 churches along the route. The walk included infants to people aged over 70, with the groups covering more than 90 kilometres in total.

Full details of the walks are available on the URC Anniversay Walk blog.

With thanks to Revd Julia Bartholomew