The Bishop of Durham today (Thursday May 14) embarked on the first of a series of prayer walks round his Diocese, aimed at allowing him to find out more about the area and its people.
The Right Reverend Paul Butler will take part in a series of Prayer Walks over the next eight years, taking in all sixteen Deaneries of the Diocese.
The first two walks, which take four days each, are happening this month; Gateshead West started on Thursday May 14 with the second walk in the Durham Deanery beginning the following Thursday (May 21).
Bishop Paul said: “Prayer Walks are a fantastic way of engaging with communities. I have taken part in them before and they are a highlight of my year because of the range of people we meet and the places that we visit.
“As we walk and pray together we seek to bless, and be blessed by, the people and communities that we visit. It is a way of the church and community engaging together for the benefit of that community.”
The Bishop of Durham’s Prayer Walk in West Gateshead Deanery began at Groundwork on the Central Nursery site, Wickham. Groundwork runs a wide range of community activities in the area, including helping prepare people for work.
Bishop Paul said: “Groundwork gives a good picture of what the prayer walks are all about. It is about regenerating and offering hope and seeking blessing in our communities.”
Groundwork Partnership Manager, Michele Armstrong said: ”We are proud to have been changing places and lives in the North East for 30 years. Since establishing in 1985 in East Durham, Groundwork has been building partnerships that make a positive difference. We believe our success is based on engaging local communities, young people, private and public sectors. Getting involved with the start of the Bishop’s Prayer Walk was a great privilege for us and reflects our ethos of changing lives.”
The idea of the walks is a new one for the Diocese and Gateshead West Area Dean the Revd Tom Jamieson said: “We are delighted to be hosting the first Prayer Walk in the diocese. I think there is so much more faith out there than people reckon and people will welcome the opportunity to touch base with a sense of blessing and people who can connect them with a sense of goodness.”