A Carrickfergus clergyman is planning to mark a quarter of a century of ministry by undertaking an epic hiking challenge later this year.
During an autumn sabbatical from his duties at the historic St Nicholas’ Church in the centre of the town, Rev George Davison is to walk the ancient pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago.
And while Mr Davison, who is Archdeacon of Belfast and Hon. Secretary, Church of Ireland General Synod, is grateful for the opportunity to step away briefly from familiar duties, his parishioners won’t be far from his thoughts during the journey in Spain.
He explained: “Sabbatical leave for clergy is a period away from the normal responsibilities of parish life to make space to read, study, think and pray. It is designed to be a time of refreshing and equipping.
“My sabbatical will fall into two parts and during the first part - in September and the first week of October - I plan to walk the ancient pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago. Over the course of a little over a month I hope to walk five hundred miles across Northern Spain, carrying some simple belongings in a rucksack, staying in very basic dormitory accommodation and taking time each day to pray for about twenty-five families in the parish.
“That would mean that in that month or so I would have the chance to pray for every family connected to St Nicholas’ by name.”
Mr Davison went on to encourage members of the congregation to contact him ahead of the walk.
“I’d love it if you would let me know if there is something specific that you would like me to pray for you and your family. If you would like to send me a prayer request, just drop a note (or send an email) to the parish office by the end of July and we will compile a prayer diary for the walk during August.”
Ordained by Archbishop Robin Eames in June 1992 in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh, Mr Davison has been rector at St Nicholas’ for eight years. While the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage will afford him the opportunity to see a part of the world that he doesn’t know and ”indulge my enjoyment of walking”, the latter part of the sabbatical will focus on “nurturing discipleship”.
“I hope that this will give me some insight on ways to encourage each one of us to grow as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
He went on to express appreciation to the Bishop of Connor for granting the sabbatical leave and to colleagues who will be shouldering extra responsibilities.
“I am very grateful to the bishop and to the select vestry for their support in allowing me to avail of this opportunity.”