Archbishop's pilgrimage stops off at Friendship Lunch

WITH JUST over a week remaining on his six-month pilgrimage across the Diocese of York, Archbishop Dr John Sentamu gave his seal of approve to The Yorkshire Post loneliness campaign-inspired Friendship Lunches by stopping to share a meal in Welburn.

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu at the Friendship Lunch at the Crown and Cushion at Welburn.

Dr Sentamu began his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing at St Mary’s church in Whitby on December 1, and has since walked over moor and dale, along highways and byways as he met and prayed with people across the diocese.

The pilgrimage will finish next Sunday, May 22, at York Minister, but first, this week’s journey has taken him to a pig farm in Helperthorpe; to meet volunteers at Norton Foodbank; pay a visit to the racehorse chaplaincy team at the stables of Brian Ellison racing in Malton and today, to Welburn, where he stopped at the Crown and Cushion pub.

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Set up after the success of the first Friendship Lunch at the Durham Ox in Crayke last year, the event in Welburn is supported by the local parish and nearby churches, who, along with the pub’s owners Provenance Inns, invited Dr Sentamu to join them yesterday.

Inspired by the Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign, the lunches are aimed at encouraging people to reach out to others in their area to join them for a meal out to help combat loneliness and isolation.

Dr Sentamu said: “We have been created in God’s image and likeness to know Him, to worship Him and to live in friendship with Him and others. This Friendship Lunch is a fantastic way of enabling that love and companionship to be expressed and I pray that all who eat together will continue to find strength and life with these wonderful friends.”Provenance Inns managing director Michael Ibbotson said: “The Archbishop had a good chat with everybody around the tables, and seemed really pleased with what we’re trying to do with the Friendship Lunches. It was very much our community spirit that he commented on.

“We had 73 people come along, our biggest yet at Welburn, and they get better every time. We have had one group of 16 ladies from Heslington Church who have been coming along since day one and they were absolutely delighted to have a word with the Archbishop.”

On Sunday Dr Sentamu will lead an open-air service at Castle Howard. Normal admission prices apply.