Journey to Holy Islands

Journey to Holy Islands

After a successful pilgrimage to central Australia in April 2021, Rev. Dr Rob McFarlane and Andrea McFarlane look set to undertake another trip, this time to explore the UK from a spiritual perspective.

Organised through Olive Tree Travel, the pilgrimage will take place from 7 to 27 September (with an option to extend to 2 October).

Rev. Dr McFarlane told Insights that people who join this pilgrimage, “can expect a wide range of experiences, held together by a spiritual core which will deepen their own discipleship.”

“We will have special day retreats on Holy Islands: Iona in Scotland and Lindisfarne off the northeast coast of England, Rev. Dr McFarlane said. 

“At different times we will visit sacred sites, hear the story of Celtic pioneering missionaries in ancient monasteries, see treasures and ancient manuscripts in museums, worship in great cathedrals, and explore a range of threads of Christian tradition.”

According to Rev. Dr McFarlane, there will also be some “tourist moments”, including the Titanic Museum in Belfast, the Giants Causeway on the Northern Ireland coast, Edinburgh Castle and a free day to explore London. 

“Above all, travellers can expect an enriching group experience, as a focused travelling community.  This is the intentional spiritual environment where lives are changed.”

“As a foundation for leading this pilgrimage, Andrea and I have been to all the Irish and British locations that we will visit,” Rev. Dr McFarlane said. 

“Personally, I am looking forward to having a more extended time on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, only accessible at low tide.  Being on retreat on the Island after the day-tourists have left will be transforming.”

“As someone with a Scottish background, I am also looking forward to exploring two Scottish traditions: ancient Celtic spirituality In Ireland and on Iona, and the Scottish Reformed tradition as we worship at St Giles in Edinburgh and visit Greyfriars Kirk.”

“The once-a-decade Oberammergau Passion Play (re-enactment of the final events of Christ’s life) is on my personal bucket list,” Rev. Dr McFarlane said. 

“Oberammergau is a unique combination of spiritual, cultural and historical significance.  This significance is heightened in this time of pandemic, as the Passion Play was first performed as a thanksgiving for deliverance from the plague in the middle ages, and has continued that vow of thanksgiving.”

Rev. Dr McFarlane told Insights that he was, “confident but realistic about overseas travel in September.” 

“It looks like the pandemic is peaking, and we’ll hopefully know that for sure within a month,” he said.

 “We have a timeline of deposits, payments and cancellation points to preserve people’s money, so they won’t be out of pocket if we have to cancel.  We have an excellent travel insurance policy tailored to COVID that we can offer travellers.  We have an outstanding travel agent, Olive Tree Tours, who have always supported our study tours and pilgrimages through trials and tribulations, such as the Icelandic Volcano eruption in 2010.  And of course, local providers in Europe are all now highly experienced in operating with COVID-safe plans.”

“Andrea and I find great satisfaction in leading groups to experience places throughout the Middle East and Europe that have deepened our own spirituality and discipleship.  One thing that particularly energises us is seeing people return from these journeys transformed and renewed in their faith, and for witness and service.”

Rev. Dr McFarlane will host a series of information sessions about the Pilgrimage via Zoom. These will take place on Sunday 6 February at 3pm and Wednesday 9 February at 7:30pm.

The link for these sessions is available here.

For more information, visit Olive Tree Travel’s official website here.


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