Growing trend for pilgrimages can help unchurched find God says Christian pioneer

Wed 22 Feb 2023 by Donna Birrell

Pilgrimages are proving more and more popular – with travel website predicting they will be one of the seven biggest travel trends of this year.

Many people who go on pilgrimage go for a spiritual or historical experience, but believers now hope this could be a new way of encouraging more people to find God.

Andrea Campanale is a lay pioneer in the Diocese of Southwark and she also runs pilgrimages for people who are spiritual but not religious. She’s been speaking to Premier about what she is witnessing:

“There are more and more programmes about pilgrimages and it’s definitely seen as something worthwhile. It’s not just people of faith who want to engage in that, but people who are interested in spirituality, perhaps at a transition point in their lives, and they’re looking for some sense of guidance or direction.

“I also think there is a real hunger for meaning and a sense of identity. We are post Brexit and Covid and I think we are really struggling with a sense of who we are.”

Andrea Campanale is a former Church Mission Society partner who has worked to build relationships and conversations about Christianity with the spiritual but not religious for 17 years.  Her new social enterprise called ‘Spiritual Practices Pilgrimages’ has its first pilgrimage scheduled for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in September.

“The idea of these pilgrimages is to tap into a native Christianity that was indigenous to these soils and is rooted very much in the landscape,” she continued.

“During Covid a lot of people got out into nature and that was their way of getting through the pandemic. So to actually find the divine in nature seems like a very natural thing for people – perhaps more so than going to a church building.”

“I think for us, as Christians, we can create opportunities for people to have those encounters. If we are able to do things which connect to our own historical past, but also bring that up into our present day lives, and draw on the landscape, the stories, the miracles, and the tales of adventure and inspiration that we have in our own past.

“I want to introduce those who are interested in spirituality to a Christianity native to the British Isles that found connection with God in nature, encountered a wild Holy Spirit inspiring miraculous adventures and expressed devotion to the divine in sacrifice, community, hospitality and beautifully skilled arts and crafts. I think this will resonate with people searching for meaning and an experience of God rooted in our own unique history and landscape.

“There are lots of people who would find this really helpful in their own lives and might actually connect with Christianity in a new way.”

‘Spiritual Practices Pilgrimages’ will be officially launched on March 7th at an online event at 7.30pm.

You can find out more by clicking here.


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