From organising an overseas group tour to slipping off on a solo retreat, Reform looks at the options for Christian holidays
If you’re planning a holiday this year, why not add a spiritual dimension? At the more ambitious end of the scale, you could organise a group to visit some of the sites of the great events of the Bible, or a group holiday in a UK retreat centre. But there are also plenty of options for solo holiday-makers, whether joining a group or doing your own thing. Bon voyage – and let us know how you get on!
Organise a tour
How about organising your own tour of sites from Bible stories or Church history? Maranatha Tours will create a bespoke holiday, working to your choice of routes and sites, and your budget. Jerusalem, Istanbul, Corinth – the choice is yours. If that sounds too much like hard work, you can join prearranged tours, which for 2016 include the Holy Land, Assisi and the Aegean.
For more information, call 01255 871423 or visit www.maranatha.co.uk
Organise a retreat
Whether you are two or three gathered together, or 400, the Christian Conference Trust provides venues for Christian retreat. Its three centres are in picturesque rural settings, in Derbyshire, Hertfordshire and East Anglia, offering a range of meeting rooms and conference halls, as well as extensive grounds for personal time. The centres can accommodate musicians and youth groups, while also offering peaceful environments for quieter activities. A bursary fund is available for Christian groups that would otherwise struggle to be able to afford to come.
For more information, visit www.cct.org.uk or call 0300 111 4444
Create a course
It’s Your Space is a service offered by the Windermere Centre: the centre will create bespoke courses, retreats and other events built around a group’s or individual’s needs. For a group booking, they help with organising leaders and planning the programme. For an individual wanting, for example, a Bible-study course, the centre will set it up on dates to suit him or her, find a leader, and then make the event available more widely through their website. Alternatively, you can simply come for as an individual for a retreat or holiday, and, if you want, the centre can organise a retreat leader for you.
For more information visit http://windermere.urc.org.uk/events-nw
Meet with Christians
Solo Trips Together organise holidays for people who are setting out on their own but want to make up a group with other Christians. Its tours of the UK and Europe consist of small groups of over-30s, with a Christian tour leader. The tours are informal and allow time to do your own thing. Prices for 2016 start at £996 (plus single room supplement) for five days in London and Paris.
For more information, call 0161 941 1215 or visit www.solotripstogether.com
Join the forum
How does a week of rest, renewal and inspiration sound? Each summer, Christians from the United Reformed Church and other denominations meet for just that, at the Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire. Daily worship, themed talks and children’s groups are followed by discussions, practical activities, coach trips, quizzes and films. This year’s event is led by the Revd Michael Jagessar on the theme “At home in a strange place”. It takes place from 20 to 26 August. Full price adult tickets start at £360, with concessions available.
For more information, visit www.urcholidayforum.org.uk
Retreat in Cambridge
Westminster College, Cambridge, offers groups and individuals a place for retreats, whether it’s one day to pause, pray, walk, think, read the Bible and write, or a longer period with bed and breakfast. Spiritual direction is available for those who want it, and the outdoor prayer labyrinth is an aid to reflection. From 2016, the College will hold regular facilitated quiet days for individuals, and have an art studio where visitors can explore the creativity of prayer. Join the College’s morning prayer in term time and lunchtime office throughout the year.
For more information, visit www.westminster.cam.ac.uk or call 01223 330633
Visit Holy Island
Holy Island, off the coast of Northumberland, has been a site for pilgrimage since the seventh century, thanks to the monastery founded by St Aidan and led by St Cuthbert. Today, St Cuthbert’s Centre, at the heart of the Island, offers a prayerful space for individuals and groups, with morning prayers Tuesday to Sunday, and a prayer tree to attach your own prayers to. The building can also be booked for your own events. There is also the bothy, a self-catering retreat accommodation for one person.
For more information, visit www.holyisland-stcuthbert.org or call 01289 389254
We can’t talk about Christian travel without considering the impact of global tourism on our world. Responsible Travel is devoted to overseas tourism that benefits local communities. Accommodation, food and tours are provided for fair prices by local people and family businesses. As well as benefitting them, it also gives you the traveller more chance to experience the culture of the places you visit. Trips are kept as low-carbon as possible, and support is given to local charities.
For more information, visit www.responsibletravel.com or call 01273 823700
This article was published in the February 2016 edition of Reform.