East Renfrewshire Church embarks on 4,500 mile pilgrimage with a difference

An East Renfrewshire Church is going on a 4,500 mile pilgrimage to the Holy Land without leaving Scotland.

Pilgrimage map
The pilgrims will cover the equivalent miles to Jerusalem following the route on the map.

Around 70 members and friends of Orchardhill Church in Giffnock, as well as people from nearby congregations, are covering the equivalent miles from their parish to St Andrew's Church of Scotland in Jerusalem.

Each day the distance the pilgrims have walked or run is added to a central tally, and a virtual map shows how far along the route they've progressed.

Minister, Rev Dr Grant Barclay, said, "It seemed quite a challenge to walk just over four and a half thousand miles, but we are making great progress and it is surprising to see just how far we can go when we work together.

"There's real enthusiasm to count steps, or to go for a daily walk, knowing that it will help us reach our joint target.

"Just like pilgrims, we share stories and reflections with one another along the way. We're learning about one another, and about faith, as we travel together."

The route stops off at historic cities such as Rome, Venice and Istanbul, as their medieval counterparts would have also done.

From here they will go via the locations of early churches along the southern coast of Turkey before walking through the Holy Land.

Other special points of interest include places associated with the Reformation.

By sharing the total distance, each pilgrim will walk around 64 miles and it's hoped they will 'reach' Jerusalem in early August.

The technical aspects of the pilgrimage have been designed by Big Team Challenge, who created a website that would allow the congregation to track their progress.

Those taking part can virtually access the streets along which they are 'walking' as well as the towns where they're staying.

Using social media smaller groups can chat and share stories along the way.

The pilgrims have decided to use the challenge as a way to raise money for Murambinda Mission Hospital in Zimbabwe, and also Scottish Love in Action, which works to support and educate vulnerable children in India.

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