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The Pilgrim Pathways Story

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A story from Baptist Minister Paul Revill on Pilgrims Pathway from our last Rural & Wild event 

Pilgrim Pathways is my venture into the ministry of accompanied pilgrimage walking.

I am a Baptist minister, recently moved from the North East of England to the West Country with my wife Barbara, to pioneer a new expression of church – I would prefer to say ‘seeing an expression of God’s Kingdom develop’ – in the town of Portishead near Bristol.

As we are pioneers, one of the practical needs is that to a large degree we need to be self-financing, at least in the early stages of the project.  In the Baptist context there is little available funding to pay stipends to pioneers, so we have to be ‘bi-vocational’ or ‘tent-making’ or whatever your preferred terminology is.

We tend to talk about having a ‘portfolio ministry’ that comprises several different elements.  So Barbara is working as a transitional minister to help another church through change as it manages a ministerial vacancy period.  I am offering spiritual direction and funeral celebrancy.  But I’m also launching out with Pilgrim Pathways, a step into the world of self employment and running a business which is a steep learning curve.

Over the past few years I have become a great enthusiast of pilgrimage walking, particularly after undertaking a journey of 500 miles along the Camino de Santiago French Way in 2019, which I found to be a hugely transformational experience.  I have subsequently walked several other pilgrimage routes in the North of England and last autumn marked the move to our new home by walking 530 miles from our old home in Prudhoe near Newcastle, down to Portishead.  Again, having the privilege of more than 5 weeks on the road gave me plenty of time for prayer, reflection and encounter with God and other pilgrims.

Pilgrim Pathways is mainly a missional endeavour.  I know first-hand the power of pilgrimage walking to draw people to God and bring positive transformative change.  The disciplines associated with pilgrimage, such as slowing down, living simply, paying attention to the present, ordering one’s priorities, being open to God or the sacred – all these are beneficial practices to counter the dysfunctional busyness, materialism, individualism and aimlessness of our Western culture.  So I am hoping that through offering pilgrimage walks, where guests can learn to practice some of these disciplines, I can help enable greater wellbeing and connectedness to God.  And yes, I also hope to make a little income from the exercise, to help fund the pioneering work.

Also, as I face my 60th birthday this year, I would like to have given this venture a try rather than end my life with regret that I was not adventurous enough to put my desires and interests into action.  It’s with a strong sense of vocation that I give myself to this initiative.

Like many pioneers, I am not particularly energised by administration – I want to get stuck into prayer and engagement – but it’s an important and necessary part of the journey.  I’ve been on training courses, put together a website and developed the necessary policies and procedures.  I am aware that it will be a different experience leading others on pilgrimage compared to the freedom of embarking on pilgrimage on my own.  I have responsibilities to carry and guidance to give along the way.  But I trust that the experience of being on foot, enjoying the natural world and places of spiritual heritage, seeing the responses of the guests I lead – that this will bring much joy and fulfilment.

So do pray for me and do join in and connect with me if you would like to.  I hope to play my small part in the growth of pilgrimage walking in the UK, and of seeing people grow in faith and in their wellbeing as a result.

Paul Revill

Website: www.pilgrimpathways.co.uk

Email: pilgrimpathwayswalking@gmail.com

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