The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, will walk to all churches in the diocese that carry the name of his ancient predecessor St Chad.
He will start at St Chad’s Well on Friday 7 August and finish at Lichfield Cathedral, the seat of St Chad, on Saturday 29 August. Between then he will visit churches named after St Chad across Staffordshire, Shropshire and the Black Country – 27 in total including the cathedral.
At each church a small service of prayer – inside or outside – will take place, in line with current safety guidance on public worship including social distancing.
Bishop Michael (pictured above on a walk four years ago) said: “I hope that this will help us all to call to mind our shared direction of travel, ‘Come Follow Christ in the Footsteps of St Chad’, as we draw closer to 2022, the 1350th anniversary of our saint’s death.”
Ahead of the 1,350th anniversary, as part of next year’s St Chad’s Day celebration on 2 March, plans are afoot to install a new statue of St Chad outside the cathedral.
St Chad became the first Bishop of Lichfield in the seventh century and was noted for his passion for the gospel and for the humility with which he shared it. Though rooted in a Christian community in Lichfield, his was a travelling, pilgrim ministry. He took to the road to share the good news of Jesus with the Mercian people. The word Mercia means border people and Chad was a pioneer bishop crossing boundaries and borders and establishing new Christian communities across his vast diocese, which included all of the modern-day Midlands at the time.
Bishop Michael said: “Chad’s message of gospel simplicity, friendly welcome and the crossing of boundaries is one which we all need to recover as our churches and our society seek to rebuild for the future.”
The Dean of Lichfield Cathedral, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, added: “From the seventh century to the 21st, St Chad’s example and charism has imbued Lichfield Cathedral and Lichfield Diocese with the distinctive gift of grounded, approachable holiness. We’re delighted that our Bishop is taking a leaf out of Chad’s book and walking through the diocese, connecting all the churches dedicated to Chad. We’ll be praying for this walk every day and will give Bishop Michael a memento for each of the churches he visits and our warm invitation to come on pilgrimage to Lichfield in 2022, the 1350th anniversary of St. Chad’s death.”