Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Green Pilgrimage to Canterbury 1989

The launch of the Green pilgrimages network this week (2 Nov 2011) in Assisi is perhaps a follow up of the pilgrimage to Canterbury 22 years ago... 

This account of this 1989 pilgrimage (involving BCC, many faiths and WWF) can be read as a follow up to blog post of the 1987 pilgrimage to Winchester. 

1989: Plodding beside the river carrying our our pilgrim staffs.. Meeting hop pickers ..  Sleeping outside under the stars in the flower rich warm graveyard, to avoid the snores of the other people sleeping inside on the church floor,.. (though we then had faint sound of traffic in the distance)  .. memories.

Hop pickers
Banner -
pilgrimage for Earth Survival
In September 1989 WWF organised pilgrimages from three places ending up at Canterbury- from Coventry, from Winchester and from Letchmore Heath: to arrive on the 16th for a weekend of prayer and celebration.

Did I go on the whole fortnight's pilgrimage along the pilgrim way from Coventry to Canterbury?
Rod and Jane Everett did, from Middlewood Trust.

Material outside hop house.
No.  (I was working for Nature Conservancy Council then, surveying grasslands in Richmondshire)

But I made my way down to the deep South East and stayed with friends at Tonbridge (or Tonbridge Wells?)  and enjoyed walking with the pilgrimage for an evening and a day.

We met some hop pickers. There are very few hops grown in England now.

In order to attend the workshops on the day before day before the pilgrimage itself would arrive,  I came early at Canterbury.  I wanted to set up a Christian Ecology Group Stall  (It was CEG then, not CEL).  The British Council of Churches was organising some workshops (History of BCC)

Picture me struggling across the road to a traffic island  with a  huge black  unweildy corrugated plastic Artist's A1 size folder containing large posters from Malham chapel wayside pulpit, and other CEG posters, plus much other luggage and rucksack.
  • "Donkey's work best heavy laden" a lady's voice cheerfully said, 
and a stranger  kindly helped me carry it across a busy road. I'll always remember her - and laugh at myself trying to carry too much.  Carrying the material was worth it because it made a good display. There was plenty of interest at the stall.

Christian Ecology Group Stall at BCC conference at Canterbury in 1989

(Considering I had not even heard of CEG/CEL at the pilgrimage two years previously, it is interesting to see from the display how much I had been involved with in 1988 and 1989 - but that's another story)

After the workshops I dismantled the banner from the top of the stall and took it to the "Welcome of the pilgrims entering Canterbury"

The pilgrimage arrived on the Saturday afternoon
and people at the conference joined them

Rev Nigel Cooper helped carry the CEG Banner.
There was TV/Press publicity but not for "Care of the Environment" but for a  fundamentalist  Christian Group who were protesting at Christians associating with other religions or at Christians associating with New Age people . Hey, ho.-

On the Sunday, the service at  Canterbury Cathedral went well.  Jonathon Porritt was there. (He is now a CEL patron and the main speaker at our next conference

I hope you enjoyed through reading this blog post - sharing in the pilgrimage at Canterbury
And if you DID attend it in 1989 do let me know!

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