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World News

Reaching new heights - Snowdon gets its first outdoors chaplain

by Donna Birrell

A North Wales village, situated at the base of Snowdon and popular with climbers and hikers, will soon have its first dedicated chaplain to the outdoors community.

The Diocese of Bangor, in partnership with Rural Ministries, has appointed Jill Ireland as the new Outdoor Chaplain for Llanberis. Situated at the base of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), the highest peak in Wales, Llanberis is a vibrant village known for its bustling outdoor activities scene. From climbing and mountain biking to water sports on Llyn Padarn, the village attracts adventurers from all corners of the globe.

Jill's mission is to bridge the gap between faith and the outdoors, fostering connections with the local community and building relationships within the vibrant outdoor community of Llanberis. As Outdoors Chaplain, Jill will create a welcoming space where individuals from all walks of life can explore spirituality amidst the breathtaking backdrop of Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

Jill has dedicated herself to leading pioneer ministry within the sports community having spent 10 years in Thailand developing church-centred sports ministry for Sports Friends Asia. Jill has also worked for Christians in Sport where she delivered evangelism and outreach events for sportspeople and chaplaincy to elite sportswomen. Since 2015 Jill has worked as Deputy Global Leader at Sports Friends.

With a passion for outdoor pursuits and a background deeply rooted in sports ministry, Jill's appointment heralds a new era of support and spiritual guidance for the region.

Jill Ireland told Premier :

“It is exciting. It's a really creative and innovative and pioneering project to communicate something to this outdoor community in this wonderful part of the world that they matter, that God cares about them. God cares about our interests or passions, the things we love doing. So I'm excited to be part of that.

“I will be working from home from the rectory in Llanberris so people can come and visit and chat to me there. But I also look forward to connecting with them in the outdoors and hopefully facilitating creating welcoming spaces where individuals from all walks of life can explore and experience and encounter God for themselves as they enjoy the gift and the beauty and the wonder of this breath-taking place.”

Jill will join Canon Naomi Starkey who has recently been appointed Ministry Area Leader of Bro Eryri, which covers Penisa’rwaun, Llanberis and Nant Peris in Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park. These appointments usher a new chapter for the Christian community of Eryri which has been without full-time spiritual leadership for six years.

Revd Simon Mattholie, Chief Executive at Rural Ministries, said:

“At Rural Ministries we are passionate about fostering an environment that is conducive to innovation, collaboration, and the expectation that God has not finished with the rural church. It seems more and more like God is active in the world around us, and if we want to be a part of it we might have to venture outside the confines of our churches.”   

Jill Ireland added:

“God is active in the world around us. And if we want to be part of that we might have to venture outside of the traditional ways or understanding of what churches looked alike. And so I'll get to be part of inviting people to encounter this living, loving God, who cares about our passions, our interests. He cares about and loves the outdoors, and all of the ways in which we enjoy it.”

An outdoor service to begin Jill’s ministry takes place on Saturday 15 June at Llyn Padarn.

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