Consider this your invitation to join the bishop on his annual trek
By Gisele McKnight
Planning for the third annual archdeaconry walking pilgrimage is almost complete and at least one of two pilgrims is in training for the two-week event which begins Sunday, May 28.
“I’ve been going to the gym since the first of December,” said Bishop David Edwards. “I’m better prepared, and I’ve shed 20 pounds since February.”
His walking partner, on the other hand, is less ready to hit the road. An injury this past winter put Trevor Fotheringham, an avid hiker and long-distance pilgrim, on the couch.
However, both are expected to be fit and ready to walk after the Sunday morning service at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Browns Yard, on the Richibucto River, for a 21-kilometre walk to St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Harcourt.
By June 11, they will have slept in 14 different churches, church halls and billets, and walked about 240 km, from the northern reaches of the Archdeaconry of Moncton, to its most southern boundaries in Petitcodiac and Sackville. The pilgrimage will end June 11 at St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Moncton at the 11 a.m. service.
While final confirmation has not yet been received, Primate Fred Hiltz is planning to join the pilgrimage June 7.
“We’re almost certain the primate will be here,” said Bishop David. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to walk with the primate and for him to have the opportunity to talk to people in the diocese on issues important to them.”
The bishop enjoys these annual treks as a break from meetings and long days of driving. He’s eagerly anticipating two things in particular.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with the people of the Archdeaconry of Moncton, to get to know them and the area better,” he said. “And my biggest hope is that I get the opportunity to talk to people about Jesus and his importance in our lives.”
There’s also a good reason why he continues the annual pilgrimage, first in the Archdeaconry of St. Andrews, and last year, in the Archdeaconry of Chatham.
“I think it’s important for the bishop to be visible in the diocese and available to people who wouldn’t normally come across my path,” he said.
Trevor has been busy, not just recovering for the walk, but also as chief route planner, a job he has done all three years. And each year brings logistical challenges.
“In the first year, we walked church to church,” he said. “Last year it was a challenge because there were three distinct areas. This year most of the churches are more than 20 or even 30 kilometres apart. It’s impossible to plan a route that goes simply from church to church.”
After using the Lenten study guide, Noticing God, by Richard Peace, Trevor has a renewed appreciation for creation.
“I’m going to be in nature,” he said. “Everything will take on new relevance because of that book. It will bring more awareness of the mission of God.”
He’s especially looking forward to time in the Hillsborough area, tackling trails he’s not walked before, and enjoying the coast and the Hopewell Rocks. The pair hopes to walk the ocean floor at low tide.
As well, on Saturday, June 3, they will participate in the Diocesan Noticing God Quiet Day with a walk around the Waterfowl Park in Sackville.
Trevor values what past pilgrimages have afforded: two weeks of freedom to be a Christian largely unfettered by the world’s demands.
“I can be unrestricted in my profession of faith,” he said. “I can be more open about my faith, surrounded by like-minded people.”
Last year, only a handful of kilometres was spent without someone joining Trevor and Bishop David. They would like to have you join them — for an hour, a half-day or a full day, whatever you are able to manage.
Although a schedule was published in the May edition of the New Brunswick Anglican, you are advised to check the online schedule for any changes: anglican.nb.ca/wp/pilgrimage . You can also check with the synod office for up-to-date route information: 506-459-1801, ext. 223.
The bishop will be writing a nightly blog of the day’s highlights and insights, which has proven very popular the last two years. Once the pilgrimage has begun, you can read it here: anglican.nb.ca/wp/pilgrimage . The bishop welcomes your comments on his blog site.