Timed to coincide with Global prayer movement ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ from 25 May to 4 June, the 180-mile pilgrimage of prayer for the National Health Service got underway in Stafford on Thursday. Led by Stafford curate the Revd Becky Richards, the pilgrims will be visiting 16 hospitals over ten days, arriving in Milton Keynes on Tuesday 30 May.
The Bishop of Stafford, the Right Revd Geoff Annas, joined the pilgrims for morning worship at the County Hospital in Stafford before walking the first leg to Cannock Hospital. There, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, met walkers and prayed with staff outside the hospital before journeying to Walsall’s Manor Hospital.
Bishop Michael said: “This week’s terrible events in Manchester underline the tremendous importance of our doctors, nurses and other NHS staff. Walking alongside each other in pilgrimage is a crucial to building relationships and faith. It was a privilege to spend time with Becky and others on their first day yesterday. As they meet and pray for NHS workers over the next few days they will be at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers.”
Becky said: “This is primarily a Pilgrimage of Prayer for our NHS and the thousands of health care workers who work under increasing pressures and rising expectations. As an ‘agent of healing’ in our country, the NHS is truly an expression of God’s Kingdom which provides healing and compassion to all, regardless of social standing or means, at their point of need. To me, the NHS is an embodiment of Jesus’ ‘Parable of the Good Samaritan’; the story he told to illustrate to a lawyer what it means to love one’s neighbour as oneself. The Walk is NOT a political demonstration, but a move of prayer, recognising God’s heart for the National Health Service.”
The pilgrimage will finish at St Thomas’s Hospital in London on 3 June. More information is available on nhsprayerwalk.co.uk or via Becky’s blog (http://nhsprayerwalk.blogspot.co.uk).