Lancashire bishop's county-wide pilgrimage raises £14k for new community hall in Blackpool

A Lancashire bishop who laced up his hiking boots and embarked on a 58km county-wide walk raised more than £14k for a Mereside church with his pilgrimage.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 3:45 pm
Philip North on his trek on Friday
Philip North on his trek on Friday

The Bishop of Burnley, right reverend Philip North, trekked from St Bartholomew’s Church in Chipping in the Forest of Bowland to the Freedom Church in Mereside on Friday.

The walk, nicknamed ‘Chip-in to Mereside’, raised thousands for the refurbishment of the former St Wilfrid’s Parish Hall on Langdale Road in Blackpool - smashing the bishop's original £10k goal.

This will enable the hall to be re-opened as The Freedom Centre, a community centre for the people of Mereside that can also be used as a place of worship for the Freedom Church congregation.

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Philip travelled through Longridge, Grimsargh, Goosnargh, Broughton, Woodplumpton, Treales, Kirkham, Wesham, Wrea Green and Weeton, before ending up at Mereside Chippy, where he was welcomed with a free serving of chips for his efforts.

Freedom Church reverend Linda Tomkinson said: “Our prayer is that the Freedom Centre will be place to offer hope, support, friendship and much more. The centre will sit at the heart of a community which has faced a steady withdrawal of services for too long now; enabling us to reach many more people from Mereside and beyond.

“Each and every person who has given to this appeal, however large or small their donation, can know for certain they have played a part in bringing the new Centre to vibrant life.

Bishop of Burnley Philip North arrives in Treales on his walk

“We thank them all and we particularly thank Bishop Philip for offering his time, his energy and his encouragement every step of the way so far on our church’s journey.”

Philip said: “As I have travelled across the county today, it’s been a powerful sign to me to see how we are all dependent on each other.

“In the Bible, St Paul says we are all one in Christ. Today I have passed through parishes in all kinds of different areas, serving all kinds of different people, but we are still all one family in Christ, in this case a family supporting the work of Freedom Church.

“Situated on one of the most deprived estates in the country Freedom Church cheers my heart with the outstanding service it offers to the community and in the confidence with which it proclaims the Gospel.”

Reverend Fiona Jenkins from St Bartholomew’s, Chipping, added: “Despite, or perhaps because, of our very different contexts, we are building a true partnership in which we can learn and laugh together on our journey of faith. I hope the friendship between our churches will encourage similar partnerships between parishes across Lancashire in our wonderfully diverse Diocese.”