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Companions for the Journey returns

First published on: 28th July 2023

Companions for the Journey

Following a five-year hiatus due to Covid, this year saw the return of the Companions for the Journey course. It built upon previous courses organised by the late Canon Alan Butler, offering training to those wishing to explore a ministry in spiritual accompaniment.

Companions for the Journey ran from January to June, with 16 people (lay and ordained) taking part. Using the wonderful facility of Whalley Abbey, the group met every two weeks, with a residential overnight stay at the beginning and the end of the course, plus a three-day residential guided retreat halfway through.

Tutors included David Sharples, David Thomas, Angie Stanton, Carol Schofield and Jason Powell, all of whom carried on the work of this precious gift that was founded by Alan.

At the heart of the course was prayer, offering people the opportunity to explore different ways of praying in a practical and experiential way. The course tutors provided a safe place in which to experience and reflect upon prayer, and it also gave course members the opportunity to discern whether they are experiencing a calling to spiritual accompaniment.

Going forward, the hope is to restore this course as a biennial event, offering something so essential to the ministry of the whole church. One participant described it as "an oasis, transformative and life-changing", whilst Archdeacon David Sharples said: 

“It was such a joy and privilege to share in this course. I know that I and my fellow tutors feel so blessed that we were able to accompany those ‘on the journey’. As I have reflected on the course my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude for the honesty, openness and depth of sharing of the members on the course and thankfulness for all that they are and the amazing God-given gifts that they bring to the church.”

If anyone would be interested in participating in the next course, which we hope to put on in 2025, please contact Bishop’s Chaplain, Rev Canon Ian Joyrsz so we can keep you informed of any developments.

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