Festival of Christian Pilgrimage reshaped as free webinar

The inaugural Festival of Christian Pilgrimage which was due to take place at Christ Church this autumn is to be reshaped as an online experience in the light of the pandemic.

The Festival – a brand new event planned as part of the Association of English CathedralsYear of Pilgrimage – was conceived as a 48-hour residential conference, allowing delegates to explore the theme of pilgrimage in the unmatched setting of Christ Church.

The Festival was planned in partnership with the Church Times and Hymns Ancient and Modern Group, who host the highly successful biennial Festival of Preaching at Christ Church.

In the light of the pandemic, however, the organisers have decided to slim down the programme and to offer it as a free webinar on a single day, Monday 13 September 2020.

Participants will be able to hear talks from four of the key speakers and interact with them online after their talks.

Those speaking include the Dean, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, who will be talking on why pilgrimage has such resonance in today’s culture. He will be followed by the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, speaking on his experience walking the Camino and the poems he wrote on the journey.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, will be talking on the spirituality of walking. The Revd Dr Dee Dyas, Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture and the Centre for Pilgrimage Studies at the University of York, will be speaking on ‘Theology ambushed by experience’.

And the day ends with the Revd Dr Sally Welch, diocesan spirituality adviser and an expert on pilgrimage, answering questions from participants in a session entitled ‘Everything you want to know about pilgrimage but were afraid to ask’.

‘The Festival is an opportunity for people to take time out to deepen their understanding of pilgrimage in our culture,’ said Sarah Meyrick, Public Engagement Manager for the Cathedral.

‘Although we’ve had to slim down the programme we are still going to be offering a mix of theological reflection and practical pilgrimage. We’re very grateful for the flexibility of all our speakers.’

Professor Percy said: ‘Christian pilgrimage was a staple feature of our life as a nation for many centuries. Christ Church – and indeed the City of Oxford – first became prominent because of the significance of Saint Frideswide and her shrine. 

‘In the 21st century, many Christians are rediscovering the power of pilgrimage, and how it can enhance and transform our spiritual lives and prayer. This Festival is offered to all those seeking to develop their faith as pilgrim people/’

Taking part in the Festival webinar is FREE but booking is essential. See https://pilgrimage.hymnsam.co.uk/ for details.