Great Bavington Church
Ministry to walkers on St Oswald’s Way
The St Oswald’s Way long-distance footpath passes right beside Great Bavington URC in rural Northumberland, on the route between Holy Island and Heavenfield. As many walkers pass by, we decided first to provide a tuck box outside the church, and then to open the church during the day so that walkers could find rest, refreshment, shelter and a loo. This leg of the walk, 17.5 miles between Kirkwhelpington and Heavenfield, passes through remote countryside with few settlements or facilities.
Visitors are very appreciative that the church is open. Some quotes from letters and the visitors’ book:
“On the leg through Great Bavington it had begun to rain, hard. We had rain jackets but the rest of the body was soaked. We then fortunately came across your church. A welcome shelter from the rain and a lovely church too. Thanks to those who look after the church so well and also for keeping it open to strangers passing by.”
“Thank you for your welcoming open doors.”
“Real Christian values on display here, thank you.”
“Lovely sanctuary in Bavington.”
The tuck box is stocked with bottles of water and snacks, and has this verse from Isaiah on the lid:
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah ch 40 v31.
Inside the box is a piggy bank, in which visitors can leave donations if they wish, and they are very generous.
“Thank you for the food and drink – we had left our lunch in the car!”
“Really hot day – thank you so much!”
“We love the spirit of your little church – its generous offering of fruit pastilles and that lovely quote from the Bible – we will indeed soar on wings having eaten and enjoyed.”
“Bless you guys for the welcome feast.”
Opening the church to visitors and providing food and drink has benefitted the church as well as the passing walkers. It is encouraging for the congregation to know that we can provide welcome facilities for people, and provide a Christian witness to people of any faith or none. The donations which visitors make contribute towards the upkeep of the church, and the comments in the visitors’ book provide good evidence of the church’s value to the community.
For further information, please contact the Church Secretary: