How to organise a local pilgrimage walk?

Updated: Jul 6


Here is an example of the Pilgrimage walk done recently by our church community. You can use it as a blueprint for your pilgrimage walk.



Background

About 2 months before Easter, during a ministry team meeting, we discussed various things that we could do to celebrate Holy Week with our church community. A few months before, I remembered that I was searching for a way to make a pilgrimage somewhere near where I live, so I did little research. I came across the St Alban’s Way.

To my surprise, it leads right next to St Barnabas Church, where I minister. The story of St Alban is fantastic and worth reading; here I got for you a great video about him.

We decided that we could do it on Great Saturday as a church.

 

Our goals

  • to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,

  • to spend time with God and with others,

  • to do it all together,

 

Results

We had a perfect time together!

Our plan for the finish was to have communion and a meal together. Still, straight after communion, we began to pray and sing, and it has changed into a fantastic time of worship.

A total of 38 people took part in our walk. 22 started. 16 joined us at a few points, some left mid-way, and 25 arrived at the destination.

People listened to prerecorded scripture readings, reflected together and alone, prayer during the entire way.

 

Testimonies

Thanks and well-done everyone yesterday! Was a fantastic experience. Happy Easter!

A.


Thanks, everyone for making yesterday what it was - it was really special sharing communion with you at the end of the route 🙂

R.


So so enjoyed today!!! Incredibly grateful to all who put the hard graft into organising today

Had lovely moments of connection, friendship and laughter

What a privilege to know you all

What honour & gratitude to worship and pray and remember our Lord’s sacrifice at Easter with you all.

Thank you

D.


You did such a good job organising this and it was a great walk and a chance to share testimonies and experiences and listen to the Bible readings at way stations. Outstanding! Much blessed

G.


Final thought of the day: Jesus said two or three together, he will walk amongst us. Oh well, he certainly walked amongst us today. Before joined walk, I never actually thought with a child, we can walk that far, but once in the group, with everyone’s encouragement, not only me and my boy actually managed to walk the longest walk we ever did together, but my wife actually managed to complete the entire journey, so hats off to my family and to Jesus. I guess this is further testament to only what god he wants us to be, but also what he actually designed us to be-to love and support each other. After all, where is the fun of walking alone?

R.


It was just so great to be with you all today. Thank you for the bonding experiences, the long chats, the heartfelt testimonies shared and the newfound friendships...Invaluable!

Thanks for putting an idea into a reality! Cambridge next year ???🙏🏽

E.


Thank you so much to everyone for such a lovely and thought-provoking day and particularly for organising the audio, they really broke up the walk nicely. Enjoy the rest of your day and have a lovely Easter 😊

M.

 

Planning

Time

We planned the breakfast for 8:30 am and leaving time for 9:00 am. This worked out well, but it was a bit stressful, something to work on in the future. We arrived at the end of our walk just past 5:30 pm, so we were only 30 minutes late. That was basically as long as one of the unplanned stops on the way.


Path

The entire way from St Barnabas church to St Alban's Cathedral is 19 miles long. This was divided into 11 parts of similar length.


After 12 miles, there was a lunch break planned. This was also the point where people who didn't want to walk all the way could join us for the final 7 miles.

The path was based on St Alban’s Way.

I used Google maps to modify it and draw my own paths and sections. You can find this tool here -> google custom maps.

I assumed a walking pace of 2.5 miles per hour.


Recordings

The easiest option would be to simply use an audio preexisting audio recording of the bible from the internet and add on-page text with the reflection.

We could have just told people to use bile on their mobile phones, but this had the potential to divert attention and add steps to the process.


I chose to do our own recordings for a few reasons:

  • It was a way for me to involve more people in the event

  • It was the way that helped to include people who had sometimes not been involved in church ministry before.

  • People listening to the recordings could hear the voice of someone they know or can know in the church.

  • Few people desired to join but couldn't; this allowed them to contribute.

I had one file prepared with the reading and questions for reflection. I shared this file with each of the 11 people who recorded themself reading. We used WhatsApp voice notes to do it as it was the easiest of the options. Later I used Audacity to reduce the background noise of each recording or edit out the mistakes.


Here you can see the following resources used for the entire process:


Selection of reading

I chose reading with the use of the Bible Project.

This video divides the Gospel of Mark into 3 acts:

  • Who is Jesus?

  • What does it mean for Jesus to be Messiah?

  • How does Jesus become the King?


I decided to go through the whole Gospel of Mark for several reasons:

  • During a day-long walk, we need to have a significant amount of reading

  • Gospel of making is the shortest of the 4 Gospels, and therefore we could use most of it.

  • We didn't listen to the entire Gospel but only to the parts that are most significant in understanding who was Jesus and what did he do.

  • We added a few bits to emphasise that it is not a whole Gospel and that some things have happened (please see the file with the reading for more details)

  • People are in different stages of their Christian life. Some had a chance to read the entire Bible many times, and some didn't have a chance to start. This way allowed new Christians to see the Crucifixion in the light of the whole life of Jesus.


Website


During the walk, we used this website to navigate (link)

Each part has its own page with audio recordings (in 2 languages) and a map for individual parts. (link)


The pages were designed for mobile-first and only. Knowing that nobody will bring a laptop with them and that we will use mobile phones on the way.

Minimal design with few links sending people away from the page helped keep people on the same page.

The dark design helped save the battery of mobile phones during the long walk.

Each parts page had only buttons to play audio and see the map.

Having a website prepared ahead also allowed people to see how the whole thing would work.


WhatsApp group

Probably the best tool for communication (at least in the UK). All participants joined the group.

We used the group in multiple ways:

  • To share life location to make sure that nobody is left behind.

  • To share links to the following parts of the walk.

  • To communicate during and after the walk.

  • To communicate with those who were about to join us.

  • To Share photographs taken on the way.

Promo video

In the promo video, I tried to be as descriptive as possible and short. We have only a few minutes during the service to share so many things. I used Royalty-free video footage from few various stock websites.

Things to improve for the next time

  • Two amazing people who led us knew the path beforehand. I didn't have a chance to walk that way before. This is something to check ahead. We didn't walk as one big group by nature but somewhat separated into groups that walked at different speeds. Only a few people were navigating using the map, and we were losing each other from the horizon. I often walked back to ensure that we would not lose each other. Then we walked in the wrong direction for a bit.

  • Naturally, we had few people who were great at navigating and took this role upon themself without asking. I am so grateful for that. Next time, I would make sure to know ahead of who those people were and work closely with them.

  • Though I hoped that the website would be the one and only way to listen, on the way, I discovered that what was helpful was to send the link to each next part via WhatsApp. Next time I would save all of the audio files on my mobile phone and photos of the map or links to the map. I would send those at the end of each part from my mobile phone.

  • We used Churshuite for people to sign up for the event. It was great, but in the morning, few people still found themself full of questions. Few have signed up on the same morning, and I had no chance to send them details. Next time, I would set this in an automatic email upon signing up. An even more significant improvement would be to have a page with that information show up directly after the signup button on the website is clicked.

  • 30 minutes was not enough to have breakfast, introduction, prayer, and Q&A. Next time it has to be 60 minutes.