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James suggests taking a walk with significance 

Waveney Valley curate James Shelton is launching a new ministry around the practice of pilgrimage. Helen Baldry reports.


James has been inspired by the concept of pilgrimage during time spent at All Hallows convent in Ditchingham as well as the Via Beata pilgrim way, a walking route of 400 miles across the UK spanning Norfolk to Wales. 

A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place as an act of devotion. Pilgrimage is more than simply going for a walk – it is a walk with purpose and significance that can lead to personal transformation. The ‘holy place’ might not be a physical place but spiritual connection.

James said: “Pilgrimage has been a wonderful feature in my own life. As well as the simple joy of adventuring amidst the natural world, pilgrimage is profoundly spiritual and speaks into the everyday life of faith and discipleship.”

A pilgrim must learn to sift through their possessions and only carry what is necessary so they are not burdened on their journey. Similarly, a light emotional load makes a person feel fully present in their journey – popularly known as mindfulness in society today.

James said: “The simplicity of each day creates space to pay attention, noticing the beauty of the surroundings and in every moment. Meanwhile, fellow travellers become a gift for mutual sharing and generosity.”

Walking long distances daily is also a significant test of physical, mental and spiritual perseverance – and this inevitably prompts the pilgrim to consider the source of their security and dependence. For James, the source of his comfort is Jesus who said: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11.28-29).

The launch of the Pilgrims ministry is set for Saturday May 27. The day will begin with a simple Morning Prayer service at All Hallows’ convent in Ditchingham, followed by a day-long walk to Great Moulton church. Here the day will conclude with a short service of blessing and thanksgiving, led by the Bishop of Norwich – and author of ‘The Way Under Our Feet’ – Rt Rev Graham Usher.

There will be a pilgrim walk on the last Saturday of the month and a gathering at the convent chapel on the first Wednesday evening of the month. In both settings, companions will be invited to explore the spirituality of pilgrimage and the monastic life of prayer, considering how these approaches to the Christian journey might inform life as a follower of Jesus today.

Further information about Pilgrims is available at earshambenefice.org.uk/pilgrims, where you can sign up to receive regular newsletter updates direct to your inbox. To learn more email [email protected].


Taize Pilgrimage

Young people aged 18-29 are invited to join a group, with Bishop Graham, travelling from Norwich to France July 15-24, for a truly unique experience of community, worship and prayer with Taizé.

Thanks to the generous support of the Anne French Trust, the trip is offered at a discounted price of £100 per person, and bursaries are also available.

For more information contact Jeremy Brown at [email protected] before the end of April 2023.  


Helen Baldry, 29/03/2023

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