A REPORT ON THE JUBILEE 2000
A Walk of Reconciliation down the Meridian Line
June 15th to July 12th 2000
and walk with us
Come and talk with us
Come and share your lives with us,
We will walk the line
Come rain or shine
As we celebrate jubilee!
Oh, let us set the nations free
And we'll bring in the jubilee
Yes let's set the nations free
we'll bring in the jubilee!
impromptu song which we started to sing in the last week or so of
the walk sums up something of what we were up to during this 250 mile
journey along zero longitude in eastern England.
me personally, some of the most meaningful times were when there was
only three of us actually walking - Monette from Martinique, Emmanuel
from Ghana and myself - one from each corner of the infamous slave
trade triangle. We processed a great deal about past history and the
legacy it has left not only in black/white relationships, but also
between those from West Africa and those from the Caribbean. To walk
in a spirit of reconciliation and genuine equality, enjoying unity
and enjoying the differences was indeed very special. Monette and
I walked every step of the way and Emmanuel would have done if he
had not had to leave for two days on pressing business. He must
do those 30 miles on a spare Saturday!
Firstly it was about walking together...
Alasdair gives a rendition on the shofar
the end of the walk, the African representation was stronger with
Marguerite from Mali and Ros from Togo with us. Pete Adams from Harpenden
and Meg Williams from Forest Hill, who walked for a week each, also
became very much part of the core team. But there were so many others
who encouraged us on our way by walking with us for a day or two.
very vital core team members were Alasdair from New Zealand and Monette's
4 year old son Michael, who began to realise that walking was a good
thing when we reached Sussex!
drove our support vehicle and succeeded in meeting us at every planned
rendezvous. His blowing of the ram's horn was a vital aspect of the
whole venture conveying the spirit of jubilee in a unique way. Often
we would hear the ram's horn blowing from some distance away. I particularly
remember schoolchildren who were with us cheering when they heard
it, as they anticipated a cool refreshing drink!
Yes, jubilee was of course another major theme. Monette had a great
gift for conveying jubilee joy, with her "jubilay" shout
and the glorious high pitched African "le-le-le-le-le-le-le-le-luuuu!"
Only those of you who heard it will really know what I am talking
about! More of us started our own calls and they proved useful when
we got slightly separated in the woods.
were so many facets to the jubilee theme, such as celebrating the
40th jubilee since Jesus Christ came, announcing freedom, healing
and good news for the poor. We identified with the cause of the Jubilee
2000 campaign, distributing cards for people to sign and send to Tony
Blair and Gordon Brown before the G7 Summit in Okinawa. We delivered
a petition to Clare Short's office as we passed through London. We
wore our "Drop the Debt" T-shirts each day and shared about
the whole theme with a total of 1,700 schoolchildren who either walked
with us or heard us in assemblies. This theme was also prominent in
the radio interviews and newspaper articles and in our one TV appearance
on Anglia TV. Jeremy Weightman of YWAM prepared the press releases
and did an excellent job on the media side.
Walking with schoolchildren was another special aspect. One especially
memorable occasion was when 600 children from two schools in Chatteris
joined us. Many of them had made flags of the meridian nations and
it was deeply moving seeing them line the street and wave their flags
and cheer as we walked past. Later Monette taught them her call and
hearing that sound from hundreds of children was definitely spine-tingling
stuff! We felt that not only were we affirmed in a wonderful way,
but also something really significant happened for those children,
because Chatteris is definitely white Anglo-Saxon and welcoming the
stranger was important for them too.
schools who participated either gave donations at the time or sent
them after other sponsored events later. This was towards the literacy
projects and schools we are supporting in African meridian nations.
the smaller groups of pupils, we gave teaching, not only about the
Jubilee 2000 campaign, but also about the meridian line, the story
of the snake on the pole, slavery and about reconciliation issues.
Many pupils (and adults too) asked us about our symbols that we carried
every day - the rainbow snake on it¹s pole and our alternative English
flag of the oak tree.
with the pupils from New Addington
there were surprises such as when a small group of pupils from New
Addington Secondary School walked a short distance with us and led
us out onto a road which was filled with all sorts of rubbish left
by gypsies. Somehow the environment seemed to match the sense of hopelessness
in those lads. We shared briefly with them about the hope Christ came
to bring and we sang our blessing ("May the strong love of the
Father surround you") to them before they left.
Takes Its Course
"We will walk the line, come rain or shine" - well it wasn't
exactly normal weather! After a dry but windy start, there was a roasting
weekend near Louth, but by the time Marguerite flew in from the Sahara
it was distinctly cool and there were three occasions when we got
a good soaking! The wind was pretty constant which added a bit extra
to our declaration based on Tennyson's poem - "Blow out the old,
blow in the new." At times we also had to contend with footpaths
where we were definitely "making a way for the Lord" through
6 foot high nettles and brambles!
The greatest adversity we faced was Marguerite's illness. Soon after
she arrived on June 21st, it was evident that she was not well. Twice
in that week we took her to doctors, both of whom said it was a virus
and needed paracetamol and plenty of liquids. On the 28th, soon after
the rest of us had started the day's walk, she collapsed in agony
in the minibus and Alasdair drove her straight to the hospital in
Huntingdon. Malaria was diagnosed and she remained there for a week.
We were so relieved that she made a good recovery and was able to
walk near the end, but it was a very hard thing, not only for her,
but also for the rest of us, who were so excited about her being with
us. There were compensations however, such as the great kindness of
local Christians who visited her and Marguerite's example of patience
and grace under suffering. Also it helped us to identify with the
kind of suffering that is commonplace in Africa, only now it was not
thousands of miles away. It is in this kind of context that prayer
becomes less theoretical and more real.
was indeed another important aspect of the walk. We prayed either
together or on our own for the places we passed through, the people
we met and the situations we encountered. We also had a pattern of
walking prayers that we used at the start of each day's walk and also
after lunch and at the end of the day.
lunch at Crowhurst, with yew tree
great variety of people joined us for the walk and although not all
shared our faith, there was a sense of inclusion and participation
for everyone. The churches we linked up with in some way and who provided
hospitality for us were very varied, including Anglican (of all shades!),
Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Community Church, Catholic and Free
Evangelical. What a privilege to enjoy the variety of the Kingdom!
Our hospitality throughout was quite exceptional. Space does not allow
me to expand on this, but one example will have to suffice. When we
arrived at Crowhurst Church with it¹s famous 4,000 year old yew tree,
we were welcomed by all the locals, led by Leo, an Estonian who is
more English than any Englishman! In the lovely churchyard were tables
laden with food and our meal began with Leo¹s own special carrot and
coriander soup - just perfect for a rather cool day!
also appreciated the civic receptions which were laid on for us. At
Hull, we were royally entertained at Wilberforce House. A drama group
showed us what Wilberforce had to contend with as he sought to abolish
slavery. The exhibition there and especially the reconstruction of
a slave ship was disturbing but important for us at the start of the
walk. At the Discovery Centre at Cleethorpes,
the Mayoress gave us a great welcome and there was a lot of interest
in the Meridian Way footpath. The rooms at the Wisbech reception were
very grand, but the Mayor was delightfully spontaneous and informal
- Michael got his photo taken dressed up in the Mayor's 18th century
garb! The Mayor of Bromley came and walked with us for a while and
put us on course when I made a wrong turn! At Eastcourt House in East
Grinstead we were right on the line in an excellent place for photos.
At Peacehaven at the end of the walk, councillors met us on a raw
windy afternoon and we lit their millennium beacon! They said it was
warmer when they lit it the first time on January 1st! We were quite
glad to leave the cliff top and tuck into the good food provided for
us at the Meridian Centre!
roll on Europe and Africa
We are indeed grateful for many wonderful memories, but we are very
conscious that we have only completed phase 1 and now we are planning
the rest of the expedition down the meridian line. There was one occasion
when we especially felt our connection with all the other nations
along the line. Just north of Waltham Abbey in the Lee Valley Park,
there is a beautiful avenue which runs straight along the meridian
line for a kilometre. At either end are two large granite blocks which
depict aspects of travel and also the world with the meridian marked
on it. Somehow as we walked down that avenue it was as if the whole
line was shrunk between those two blocks. We thought about passing
through the nations. As we did so, Monette began to weep bitterly.
The rest of us knew instinctively what it was about - Monette was
feeling the pain of the line - both the past pain and the present
pain. The pain of injustice, the pain of exploitation through slavery,
the pain of poverty, sickness and disease. We joined her on our knees
on the damp grass as it began to rain softly and we felt the pain
of God's heart too. It is a difficult time to describe, but it was
both bitter and redeeming too. Shortly afterwards, the sun came out
and shone bright and warm as we stood together in front of that stone
with the world and the meridian line behind us. May God continue to
use us in reconciliation in Europe and Africa and to
out the darkness in the land and
Blow in the Lord Christ's Jubilee!