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
"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
"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,"
"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."