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Study tours to kick start pilgrimages to the Holy Land

The Church of England is running subsidised study tours of the Holy Land to counter a marked drop in the number of pilgrimages being organised by dioceses and parishes. Two eight-day study tours have been arranged for early 2008, including workshops run by Christian Aid.

Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, said: "Pilgrimage is a vital way of demonstrating our unity with and support of the Christian communities of the Holy Land as well as building a practical understanding of the context in which they live and witness.  I strongly support this initiative to equip and resource potential pilgrimage leaders, thereby enhancing the mission opportunities available to parishes and dioceses."

Deteriorating security and a loss of experience in organising such trips has led to the marked fall off in pilgrimages, according to an audit of relationships with the Holy Land by the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishops’ Council.

In response, the MPA Division has negotiated two heavily subsidised visits with Special Pilgrimages, a family firm based in London and Jerusalem established in 1959. Study tours rather than pilgrimages, they are designed to inspire and equip to organise parish and diocesan pilgrimages in the future.

Along with visits to historic religious sites, the tours include meetings with local Christian communities and religious leaders in both Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Christian Aid’s informal evening workshops will address organising successful pilgrimages and provide opportunity to think through underlying theological and ethical issues related to the Holy Land.

The subsidised price of £140 includes travel, accommodation, meals and entry to religious sites, with a £100 supplement for single rooms. Booking forms are available from info@special-pilgrimages.co.uk or freephone 0800 371972.