Pilgrimage marks Marsden sermon

Anglican bishop Kelvin Wright will not be just walking when he makes a 27-day pilgrimage around his huge Dunedin diocese this month to commemorate the bicentenary of the first Christian sermon preached in New Zealand.

While most of the 800km journey around the South will be on foot, he is also travelling by boat, bicycle, train, car and helicopter.

''I wanted to use forms of transport relevant to Otago and Southland. No-one's offered me a horse or skis yet, but if they did, I would be up for it.''

The Right Rev Dr Wright, who is based in Dunedin, is visiting all parts of the diocese, from Stewart Island in the South to Kurow in the north, concluding the Sunday before Easter with an event in Dunedin's Octagon.

He began planning ''a bit of a road trip'', last year knowing this year would be 200 years since Anglican minister Samuel Marsden preached the first sermon.

''I've walked pilgrimages before in Spain and thought it would be a good thing to do this year, to involve our people and get them remembering that our core business is preaching the gospel.''

Along the way, there would be small church services and larger regional events open to all.

Church members' response to his journey, named Te Harinui hikoi, had been ''really positive'', he said.

Many wanted to walk part of it too, although he said that had had to be carefully planned and most of the journey would be completed by himself and two others.

''Some areas do not have roads on which large groups of people can walk safely, and other areas lack the toilet facilities large groups need.

''But we have circulated information about the stretches where people will be able to join in.''

Samuel Marsden, who was a missionary in Australia at the time, led a service in the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day 1814.

His message - Te Harinui, good news of great joy - was translated into Maori for the congregation of 400.

Dr Wright said the Anglican Church was planning a commemorative service in the Bay of Islands on Christmas Day this year which he would attend.

On his way south to start the hikoi, Dr Wright will stop in Balclutha on Wednesday, March 12, and will be at the Balclutha War Memorial Hall at 1.30pm. Several talks are planned including the topics Anglican Family Care and restorative justice.

- allison.rudd@alliedpress.co.nz

 

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