Gloucestershire waterways subject of church ministry

Reverend Mark Walker The Reverend Mark Walker was licensed by the Bishop of Gloucester at St James Church

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The waterways of Gloucestershire have become home to an Australian vicar who is leading a new form of canal church.

The Reverend Mark Walker, 42, lives aboard his narrow boat, the Juliana, providing 'ministry on the move' while travelling the county's waterways.

He described his role as a "pastoral presence on the waterways" and said most people he meets just want to talk.

After wintering in Saul, Mr Walker will travel around Worcestershire, Avon, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Called 'Canal Ministry', the service aims to provide a church presence to those living and working on the waterways.

The boat has been specifically designed with an area that can accommodate prayer groups and church services.


The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Michael Perham, said: "In a changing world, it is important that the church continues to find new ways to minister and to share the gospel.

"Canal Ministry is something which is entirely new for this diocese and we are delighted to welcome Mark to the area."

A narrow boat The Juliana has been Mr Walker's home since mid-February

Mr Walker has been licensed to minister in and around Gloucestershire and is attached to parishes around Frampton-on-Severn in the oxbow of the River Severn.

He has already led a full life as a priest, pilot, army officer and adventurer.

"The majority of people have said they are surprised this hasn't been the case beforehand," he said.

"But then I've been surprised at the number of priests that are actually living on boats - there's about half a dozen within 10 miles of [Saul] and I'm beginning to meet them one by one."

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