Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage
Living God's Love Values - Generosity, Joy, Imagination and Courage

Less than twenty-four hours after being made a bishop in a service of consecration in St Paul?s Cathedral, the Rt Revd Richard Atkinson will journey on foot through some of the communities of Luton and Bedfordshire on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th May.

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During what he is describing as a mini-pilgrimage he will make a real journey, meeting people as he goes, as well as a spiritual journey, preparing for his new role. He will meet a Mayor or two, travel with a train driver, join leaders of other faith communities, clergy and members of churches on the way, visit schoolchildren and walk with shoppers, among others. He will encounter all these people as he makes his way, in stages, to his official service of welcome at St Paul?s Church Bedford at 4pm on Saturday.

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His journey will be a powerful message of his commitment to all to the parishes and communities in Bedfordshire and Luton, especially those places in which the poorest and most vulnerable people are to be found. He wants to connect with the Christian community ? present and past, as well as being visible to everyone in the places he visits.

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Part of the journey will travel along the Bunyan trail, in a tribute to one of Bedfordshire?s most significant sons, John Bunyan, the author of 17th century classic ?Pilgrim?s Progress?. The Bunyan Trail connects many places significant in Bunyan?s life. Bishop Richard has made his own connection with Bunyan?s legacy in choosing the words ?To be a Pilgrim? as the inscription on his Pectoral Cross, the cross worn by all Bishops around their necks. The words are taken from the only hymn directly attributed to John Bunyan, ?He who would valiant be?.

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The Bishop said: ?I am looking forward to the privilege of getting to know people in every part of Bedfordshire and Luton. I am arriving in the Diocese of St Albans as the nation has once again affirmed the place of religion in the life of the nation as a BBC poll finds that 80% of people want the Queen to remain Defender of Faith. Even though John Bunyan, some of whose footsteps I am walking in, was imprisoned for being a Non-Conformist, one who would not conform to the Church of England, we can nowadays celebrate both the Church of England and Bunyan as expressing the diversity that we celebrate in our communities and churches.?

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Another highlight of the day will be travelling with the driver of a train to Leagrave, as Bishop Richard strikes a green note on his journey.

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After thanking First Capital Connect for their hospitality, Bishop Richard said: ?I am delighted to include a train journey with First Capital Connect, in the cab with the driver no less, in this special progress through Bedfordshire. For many people, a daily journey on a train connects them with their work; for others, trains are for leisure. I hope that by taking the train today I am making a connection with people and the journey they make through their lives. All our journeys have an origin and a destination and can be lived ?on the right lines?. Whatever our background and faith, we are able to travel together while minimising our impact on the earth?s resources.?

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Bishop Richard will be accompanied by his wife Helen as he walks through Luton, from Leagrave to Marsh Farm, from Harlington along the Bunyan Trail to Westoning and Ampthill and on Saturday, from Haynes to Elstow and then through the centre of Bedford to St Paul?s Square.

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