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Dawani opts for one operator

06 February 2014

AP

A view of Jerusalem's Old City 

A view of Jerusalem's Old City 

THE Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt Revd Suheil Dawani, has for the first time chosen an official tour company to offer Anglicans pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

The British firm Lightline Pilgrimages, and their Jerusalem partner Shepherds Tours, have accepted Bishop Dawani's invitation to enter partnership. Until now, prospective pilgrims contacting the diocese were told to choose a touring company themselves.

Bishop Dawani said: "Every year many pilgrims from around the Anglican Communion visit the Holy Land, and for some it can bea daunting and complex visit to organise. The complexities of the political situation, coupled with unfamiliarity with this region, can confuse or deter prospective pilgrims."

He was pleased that Lightline and Shepherds Tours had accepted his invitation.

"I know both the depth of this company's support for the Christian communities here, and the professionalism of their arrangements, and I am confident that pilgrims will be well supported by all that Lightline has to offer."

The Revd Dominic Barrington, who is closely connected with Lightline Pilgrimages, said that, as not all tour operators were of the same standard, the diocese's previous stance had not served pilgrims well.

"Shepherd's Tours was founded in 1965 and is one of the most venerable Christian tour operators in Jerusalem.

"Lightline is the only UK tour operator that specialises in Holy Land pilgrimages which makes sure all the money goes into Christian hands out there."

Mr Barrington said that, unlike other tour operators, Lightline Pilgrimages ensured that all the services their pilgrims used in the Holy Land were owned by Christians, supporting the embattled community. "You stay in Christian hotels and eat in Christian restaurants," he said.

The firm has also committed to make a donation to the diocese of Jerusalem for each pilgrim it takes abroad, although this was not part of their partnership deal with Bishop Dawani.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, who has travelled with Lightline to the Holy Land in the past, said that he welcomed Bishop Dawani's decision.

"I've travelled to the Holy Land with Lightline a number of times, and I've seen at first hand the practical support the company offers the hard-pressed Christians of this troubled land," he said.

"What makes Lightline different is the insight they offer into the lives of the small but remarkable Christian communities who live in there. My own experience is that pilgrims are profoundly moved by what they hear.

"This new partnership offers a very concrete way in which we in the West can support our brothers and sisters in the diocese of Jerusalem, and I welcome it warmly."

 

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