Wednesday was a meaningful and memorable day for GAFCON delegates with a visit to the first Anglican church built in the Middle East and a historic pilgrimage to the Ophel Gardens – where Christ walked, the Apostle Peter preached and early Christians were baptised.
Pilgrims first heard about the miraculous founding of Christ Church (Jerusalem) through the intervention of noted British Christian leaders, such as William Wilberforce, and the growing Messianic Jewish ministry. They then walked through the Old City of Jerusalem to the Ophel Gardens. The Ophel Gardens – the southern steps of the ancient temple – was the site of events recorded in Acts 2, the Rev David Peleggi informed the crowd of 1200 pilgrims assembled on steps.
The African Anglican Youth Choir from Uganda led pilgrims in a rousing hymn of ‘Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer’s praise’.
Mr Raphael Ben-Hur, senior deputy director-general in the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, welcomed this first major gathering of Anglicans in Jerusalem and invited GAFCON to return next year. He then presented Archbishop Akinola with a personalized pilgrim certificate. Each GAFCON pilgrim will receive these personalized certificates.
GAFCON delegates were clearly moved by the pilgrimage. “It touched me deeply,” said Hans Breekvolt (Argentina). “The worship and reflection were very appropriate and meaningful.”
“It was very moving to be in the place where we believe Peter preached his first sermon and the church was founded – to go back to our “roots” for refreshment,” said the Rev Keith Stodart (Canada). “Now we must move on.”
“I was reminded of people coming to Jesus for His healing touch,” said Mrs Grace Adeyemi (Nigeria). “To be where Jesus was and where He had compassion on so many people made me feel happy.”