Walking Church in Fleckney

It might have seemed a little unorthodox, gathering in the village carpark - surrounded by the sights and sounds of a make-shift building site - but it is was within the reality that God is ever present that set the inaugural Fleckney Walking Church on its way, earlier this month.

Blessed with glorious sunshine on a Wednesday morning, the group were raring to go.

Like what often happens in a small village such as Fleckney, this gathering was a Churches Together amalgamation, with people from the St Nicholas Church community and the neighbouring Baptist Church, ready to walk and talk.

The starting location did little to detract from the Bible reading message delivered by Father Philip O’Reilly, in which we as disciples should trust in God on our journey. Prayers were also shared, touching on the needs of the community and wider world.

The plan was for a relaxed stroll across the canal and through the countryside around Fleckney, and the beautiful South Leicestershire scenery did not disappoint.

From the carpark to the cornfields, the conversation flowed and was accompanied by birdsong.  

Anne lives in Fleckney and worships close by at All Saints Church in Wigston. At the height of the pandemic, when she was unable to travel, she sought spiritual support from Father Philip and the church community around her.

Having seen the notice for Fleckney Walking Church, she thought it would be a nice thing to get involved with.

“It’s not just a walking group, but something that demonstrates my faith,” she says. “I enjoy praying together and the fellowship a group such as this brings, and have always felt very welcome within this church community.”

There’s no denying, being among God’s creation can elevate the spirit and Anne says she feels close to God when she is surrounded by such beauty.

A break in the trees and the group are looking across to the residential area, so it felt quite natural to pause for a moment and pray for the people of Fleckney. 

Though fledgling in its state, Father Philip hopes this gathering could become a Fresh Expression of Church in Fleckney.

“People love walking in the village,” he says. “We’ve all been looking for something, and I just realised that bridging the gap, building on our strengths and going where the natural energy flows, was the way forward.

“A relaxed type of ‘church’ such as this will hopefully give people the confidence to be able to ask their friends to come along,” he continues.

“There are lots of people in Fleckney, with Sunday School backgrounds, who still say their prayers. These are the people we would like to reach – to reignite their faith.”

Having been in this parish for 20 years, Father Philip has a strong relationship with its people and schools and has watched many children grow-up within the village pre-schools, the church primary school and through after-school mass.   

Penny has lived in the village for 48 years and is very involved with outreach in the local community. She helped Father Philip get the walking group started. “I love the open space and I really appreciate God and the countryside,” she says. “You never know how many people will show up, but we are here and we want everyone to know they can join us.”

Something of an administrative whizz, Penny serves St Nicholas Church and the wider Fleckney community, using her gifts for the Kingdom.

“My faith is in my practical abilities,” she admits. “It’s important for me as a Christian to be involved with the church and community.”     

And so we find ourselves back in the carpark. The plan, in the future, is to go to the local café, The Toast Office, for refreshments, but it’s closed today. Instead, we enjoy sparkling water and chocolate chip biscuits out of the car boot. It’s actually very lovely.

Rob and Judy have appreciated today’s jaunt. They often go walking as a couple, but not within a group and say they enjoy this combination of faith and fellowship.

The same goes for the rest of the group. If they all bring along a friend next month, and that friend brings along a friend – who knows what work God might do, here in Fleckney?

*The next Fleckney Walking Church takes places on Wednesday, August 11th - 10.30am start at the village car park – and everyone is welcome.

#everydayfaith #everydayprayer #everydaywitness


First published on: 25th July 2021
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