Christian writer and activist Symon Hill has announced that he plans to walk from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance for his former homophobic attitudes.
Hill, the associate director of the Ekklesia thinktank, will speak at churches along the way, encouraging the Christian Church as a whole to repent of homophobia and to think differently about sexuality.
Taking a circuitous route of around 150-200 miles over about three weeks, Hill will arrive in London on the day before the Pride march on 2 July 2011. Between now and then he is urging churches to join him in expressing repentance and to offer to host him on the route.
The precise route will depend on hosting offers but is likely to include several places in which Hill has lived, including Coventry, Daventry and Oxford.
“I have struggled for years with issues of sexuality,” said Symon Hill, “Through prayer, reflection, personal experience and reading the Bible. These struggles have led me to the conclusion that it is not homosexuality, but homophobia, that is sinful and contrary to the message of Christ”.
The walk has been endorsed by Ekklesia, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Courage UK and Inclusive Church.
“Many churches continue to reject loving same-sex relationships and to oppose equality. Others have failed to speak out due to a misplaced desire for unity,” said Hill.
He added, “Given the hurt and abuse involved, minor changes are not enough. As Christians, we are called to take a stand against injustice.”
The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell welcomed the news of Hill's plan.
“Symon Hill is bearing witness and setting an inspiring example of Christian repentance for 2,000 years of church homophobia,” said Tatchell, “I hope Pope Benedict and Archbishops Rowan Williams and John Sentamu will join him."
Symon Hill is the author of The No-Nonsense Guide to Religion and writes for the Guardian, Morning Star and various Christian publications. He is a signatory to the Common Wealth statement of Christian writers, activists and theologians committed to economic justice and opposed to the government’s cuts.
In 1998, Hill organised a “Church Crawl”, walking for a week to raise Christian awareness of depression. He later oversaw media relations for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and was part of the team that took the government to court over BAE’s Saudi arms deals in 2006-08. As a result, he was nominated as a Hero of 2007 by the activist comedian Mark Thomas in the Independent on Sunday.
More information about the pilgrimage is available at www.repenting.wordpress.com.