Canal vicar takes to the water

A new minister has joined a floating church

An Australian vicar is bringing a “pastoral presence” to the waterways of Gloucestershire as the newest member of the Canal Ministry.

The Reverend Mark Walker, 42, lives aboard his narrow boat, the Juliana, providing ministry on the move while travelling the county’s waterways.

Walker, who has also earned a crust as a commercial pilot, army officer and adventurer, has been wintering in Saul and is now planning to travel Worcestershire, Avon, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

“The majority of people I meet say they are surprised this hasn’t been the case beforehand,” he said.

“But then I’ve been surprised at the number of priests that are actually living on boats – there’s about half a dozen within 10 miles of Saul and I’m beginning to meet them one by one.”

As a memember of the Canal Ministry, Walker joins a group of priests and evangelists who also own and run boats, mainly in the south west of England. As an organisation they pledge to bring the Christian message to “those who live, work, visit, fish, walk, around on and in the inland waterways of Britain.”

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The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Michael Perham, told the BBC: “In a changing world, it is important that the church continues to find new ways to minister and to share the gospel.

“Canal Ministry is something which is entirely new for this diocese and we are delighted to welcome Mark to the area.”


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