Two weeks in August. The smallest county in England. Walk Rutland for Jesus. Inspired by Walk Cornwall, the vision grew from expecting a few friends to prayer-walk into an ecumenical mission, with a vision to walk the land and share the gospel with whoever in the villages of Rutland – this was our harvest field, people of all ages who need to know, if they do not already know, that God loves them and they can know a real relationship to God through Jesus Christ. In 2014, we looked at the map of the area hoping to walk as much of it as we can in prayer, sharing the Good News of Jesus with all who we met on the way. Walk Rutland called us to walk together and share fellowship as we walked. It was an opportunity to talk about God with friends and strangers. Some of us have taken the Talking of God course, and Walk Rutland was a time to put it into practice. Rutland is the smallest historic County in England, with clearly defined boundaries. At its centre is the largest artificial reservoir in the country, Rutland Water, with a perimeter of 17 miles, and apart from the towns of Oakham and Uppingham, it is made up of almost sixty villages. In the first week in August 2014 we walked some of the Rutland Water path, and in the second week we branched out into the country lanes, calling in at churches, village halls, shops, pubs, chippies and homes! A Commissioning Service started us off at Hambleton Church, when over 30 gathered to worship, and the church bells rang as we set off to pray at the end of the peninsula – almost in the middle of the county! Each walking day began with devotions, then we set out with banner held high, wearing badges & matching hats. We spoke to anyone along the routes – though some of the cyclists were too fast for us! – giving them a ‘Which way through Rutland’ leaflet and sometimes a WW1 John’s gospel and badges for the children. Witness activities included house to house visiting, open air worship, prayer walking, praying in shops and short services in churches. We made provision for those who cannot walk far, so that they could be part of it as well, and we were grateful for the many volunteers for stewarding, support driving, banner carrying and for leading worship, singing and prayers at various venues. People from different places and different denominations came together to walk and to pray, and for fellowship and for witness – there were people from Stamford and Melton Mowbray, and as far afield as London and Bournemouth! There weren’t huge crowds of folk at any time, between eight and fifteen on any day, but altogether there were probably hundreds of people involved in it in one way or another – the planners, those at churches, chapels and village halls along the way who opened their doors and offered hospitality, the bell ringers who gave up their time to ring us in to the villages and on our way as we left to name but a few! Walk Rutland hoped to support the Churches in the villages, and hoped that in turn they would engage with us in witness. We were thrilled with the welcomes we received around the county and thank God for the encouragement many small Christian communities felt by being part of the project. After six days of walking we held a final Celebration Service at Uppingham Methodist Church, when we were able to reflect prayerfully on the fortnight and give thanks to God for all his blessings on us over the two weeks.
In 2015, we again walked through Rutland, revisiting some places that we visited in 2014, and also including some new ones. We had a presence at the weekly markets in Oakham, Uppingham and Stamford, and at the Somerby Street Fair. To see more of what went on in 2014 and 2015, follow the links above, or have a look at our video presentation, which is also available on DVD on request.
Moving forward, we plan to tailor what we do to meet the needs of the local churches more specifically, and we are in contact with them to try to ascertain how we can best achieve that, and current plans are listed on the home page. Meanwhile if you would like more details, please make contact with one of the steering group (see the ‘Contact Us’ page.