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Friday, 14 May 2010

Anglican and Old Catholic Bishops' Pilgrimage

From 6 to 8 May Bishop Geoffrey and I hosted bishops from the Anglican and Old Catholic churches in Europe for 3 days of pilgrimage, prayer and fellowship in Hampshire. We were joined by Bishop Pierre Whalon from the Episcopal Church Convocation in Europe, and our Old Catholic brothers: Archbishop Joris Vercammen of Utrecht, Bishop Dick Schoon of Haarlem, Bishop Harald Rein of Switzerland and Bishop John Okoro of Austria. Bishop Lennart Koskinen from the Church of Sweden Diocese of Visby, our Porvoo Partner, was also able to be with us.

Anglicans and Old Catholics have been in communion since 1931. This is the second joint pilgrimage in recent years, to help build up our episcopal collegiality and give time for reflection on our common mission in Europe. In 2006 we were the guests of Bishop Joachim Vobbe of Germany when we walked a route from Bonn to Echternach in Luxembourg, where St Willibrord, the British missionary who brought Christianity to parts of Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg, is buried.

The pilgrimage in Hampshire included some walking along the ancient Pilgrims' Way from Winchester to Canterbury. Visits were made to Alton Abbey, Winchester, Easton, Kings Worthy, Beaulieu, Romsey Abbey and Hursley (where John Keble) is buried.

Pictured below is an ancient Saxon rood in Romsey Abbey, just one of the many signs of the Christian history of this part of England which provided a moment of reflection on our common heritage and our common calling as bishops to lead the Church's mission today as our forbears did in times past.  It is amazing how much is accomplished by walking and praying together, with times of community meals and fellowship. Much more productive than many meetings around conference room tables!

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