It is always good to follow local advice. It turned out that part of the route we planned to walk today was potentially dangerous, therefore we went a different way. This meant a few extra kilometres were added to our total. In all we walked 26 km today, which has made it the longest so far. Still no more ill effects with my foot, though Trevor was feeling the arch of his foot towards the end of the trail.
Once again, we were blessed with good weather and beautiful views over the Tobique and St. John Rivers. The sun shone strongly this afternoon, so everyone was left somewhat tanned. We arrived in Perth-Andover and someone kindly bought us an ice cream. I think it was the best I have ever tasted. Trevor missed out due to his Weight Watchers regime.
It was tremendous to see a great turn out of people at St. Helen’s Church in Licford this morning and a similar number in Perth-Andover this evening. Having spent some time in this parish during their time between ministers, when I was Parish Development Officer, it has been good to renew some old acquaintances. We were treated to a fine feast at supper this evening. We ate our first fiddleheads of the journey.
As I walk through this part of the Diocese it makes me reflect upon rural ministry. We have a spine of small towns running through the centre of the Archdeaconry from Edmundston to Woodstock. Spreading out from there are churches in smaller communities such as those we visited yesterday in New Denmark and Limestone Siding. In truth, the majority of parishes in this region feel under strain, financially, numerically and demographically.
I am very concerned about ministry in our rural areas, not just in this Archdeaconry, but across our province. We have so many examples of small Christian communities doing creative things in their areas to help others. Rural people matter to God, but the problem is that our existing ways of doing things do not seem sustainable. I have to be very honest and say that I am having great difficulty thinking outside the current box in these regions, but I know that God has a response.
The question I face is that as Bishop if the right ideas come along, am I able to hear them? I have a very traditional mindset when it comes to ministry. I, therefore, think according to traditional ways of resolving issues. The consequence is new ideas do not permeate. This is the conclusion I have reached during these last few days as I have walked these trails. It is my prayer that God will give me and others the grace to see into the future.
Tomorrow we head to Bairdsville. It is not as long a walk, but the forecast temperature is 30c. Please pray for us as we walk.