Archbishop Justin Welby becomes sixth Archbishop to participate in the annual Easter Monday Youth Pilgrimage – on its 40th anniversary

The Most Revd Justin Welby became the sixth Archbishop of Canterbury to participate in the annual Easter Monday Youth Pilgrimage service at Canterbury Cathedral, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary on Monday.

Each year since 1973, around 700 young people have made their way across Kent to Canterbury Cathedral for the special service to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Arriving at the Cathedral at noon, this year’s pilgrims were greeted by the Dean, the Bishop of Dover, the Right Revd Trevor Willmott and Archbishop Justin.

Speaking to the congregation, Archbishop Justin remarked: “It is fantastic to be here. It is great that you are all here.”

The pilgrimage is organised by a committee of young people from parishes in Canterbury Diocese. Nathan Wilson, of Great Chart, one of the organisers, interviewed Archbishop Justin on stage. When asked what most excited him about the future of the church, with reference to the young people present, the Archbishop replied: “I believe we are at a moment where in the next 20 to 30 years the church will renew its life. I am so hopeful.”

During the service, which included worship songs, readings and prayers, Nathan Wilson interviewed people who have been part of the pilgrimage during the last 40 years including Revd Sara Bimson who first attended the pilgrimage in 1974, and Mr Chris Anthony who has assisted with each of the 40 pilgrimages. Nathan also spoke to one of the newest members of the organising committee, Miss Immy Bawtree, 15 years old, of Dover, who remarked: “It is such an encouragement to see so many young people come together for the same reason, because Christ has risen.”

The Curate of Chartham, Revd Phil Greig, previously a church youth-worker, gave a talk on ‘After the Easter Eggs have gone, what now?’ Drawing on a reading from Philippians 2: 12-18 and Psalm 119: 105, he encouraged the pilgrims to: “Shine your God light brightly so that people are attracted to you, like a moth to a flame.”

The service ended with a blessing by Bishop Trevor.


For further Information or to set up interviews: Emily Shepherd, Director of Communications, Canterbury Diocese – 07876 210 446 or