The call has come from the people who run Bardsey Island, a centre for spirituality and species. Thousands of saints are said to be buried there – and birds, seals and dolphins are regular visitors to this ‘island of the tides’.
Located off the North Wales coast, Bardsey is a national nature reserve and site of special scientific interest. The spirituality committee of the Island Trust needs volunteers to offer pastoral support from May to October. They are looking for ministers or lay preachers to stay for a week at a reduced rental.
URC lay preacher Jill Nugent visited for the first time last year. ‘I really enjoyed it because it was a different church experience and offered me freedom to try out alternative ideas,’ she said. ‘It was good to meet Christians from other backgrounds and to chat with day visitors. Also, there is something special about the island which encouraged me to reflect on my own faith. I’m eager to go back!’
She and husband Pat also managed to enjoy some of the bird life on the island. Pat took part in an observatory nocturnal Manx Shearwater expedition (pictured). Jill has already signed up again for a week in May. A Rocha UK staff, friends and associates have all enjoyed visits to Bardsey – including Chair Steve Hughes and Churches And Theology Director Dr Ruth Valerio.
‘I’ve been going for over 50 years and for many years was part of the observatory council,’ said Steve. ‘We took four groups over for A Rocha UK holidays.’
Ruth said Bardsey holds a special place in her family’s hearts. ‘The island has given us some wonderful holidays and has taught us much about how we spend our time, living with limited resources, and the wonders of re-connecting with the natural world – all things that chime with A Rocha UK,’ she explained.
Just one-and-a-half miles long, Bardsey boasts the remains of the 13th century abbey of the Augustinian Canons who took over from the ancient Celtic foundation of the sixth century. Nearby stands a Celtic cross. A chapel was built in 1875. It remains open for the purposes of worship and meditation. People from all denominations – and none – gather together to deepen their spiritual life.
Those interested in becoming a volunteer chaplain can obtain an information pack by emailing Pam Hollinshead.