Thinking about listing a Small Pilgrim Place?
Some quotes from existing members:
“Small Pilgrim Places will make you think again about your Place.”
"It could be argued that we could do what we do without SPPN, but I am sure that we now have an extra dimension and focus that we simply didn't really tap pre-SPPN and probably wouldn't have done without that extra impetus."
"I guess there is the spiritual value to those involved in setting up a SPP to consider. The value here is in becoming more aware of the spiritual richness of one's own place and setting; it's history/story; it's architecture that creates a spiritual atmosphere and context; realising in a new way the value of the frequent worship which sustains the spiritual depth of the place - our prayer is not just for ourselves but for the sake of those who visit or use it; the discovery of the spiritual value of pilgrimage, of sharing stories with others as you walk."
We encourage you to join SPPN as an individual before thinking of listing a Place in the handbook and on the web. This gives you a further opportunity to learn more about SPPN as you travel with us for a while before finally opting for listings. As a member you have access to all SPPN materials, including the handbook, which has details on creating and maintaining a SPP. The member's area on the web has helpful accounts of how other members set up SPPs as well as other inspirational and practical material. Whilst your SPP is unique we have found that reflecting on these materials has been helpful to those members at the initial stages of preparing a SPP, talking to those other people who care about the Place and in completing listing material for the handbook directory and the web. The Core Group are very happy to explore with you, where you are, and what is the appropriate way forward for you.
How to go about listing
First of all contact us - firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know that you are thinking about a potential SPP. Every subscribing member has the possibility of listing a SPP. We will then contact you, perhaps requesting more details, or suggesting somebody more local to you telephones for a conversation or even visits, if logistically possible. Or we might suggest you visit a SPP near to you. There is no fixed routine to this process of mutual discernment.
The hospitaller role (see below) is key. Please read the Key Roles section carefully. It doesn't matter whether they are actually there when visitors arrive, but their personal relationship with a Place (along with their team if appropriate) is essential to creating the 'specialness' of a SPP. That is why we communicate with a named individual member rather than a committee. All contact persons/hospitallers need telephone and email access, even if it is not their own. There is a simple information form we will ask you to complete so that we can complete a web listing and handbook entry. We will also ask for some photos for the website. Places can be uploaded to the web site any time of year but the handbook has a strict deadline, usually very early in the year before going to print.
The Small Pilgrim Places Network undertakes no legal liability and reserves the right to ask SPPs to withdraw.
As a Network we have identified two key roles, the “contact person” (caretaker and administrator) and the “hospitaller. (The latter is a medieval term - the person who was specifically responsible for welcoming visitors and providing hospitality in a monastery). In some places, a hospitaller may be available most of the time. In others, they may be physically present very little. Both roles may be carried out by one person or shared among a small team, but we describe them separately here for ease of understanding.
If you are going to be the contact person and/or hospitaller it is important that you have a local support team around you, to lend a hand, to say a prayer or simply to listen, as we can only be effective in welcoming and caring for others when we ourselves are nurtured and cared for.
Remember that the Network is there to support you – feel free to contact other members. Visit other SPPs, come to the annual gathering to share stories and insights and learn from one another about how other Places have grown so that you can build competence and confidence, especially in the early days.
The Contact Person role
- Overall care of a Place, keeps the keys, and makes sure the chores are done.
Named in Network publicity material and able to take enquiries.
- Responsible for the annual updating and recommitment to the Network.
- Responsible for practical issues such as publicity, provision of information and encouragements to prayer and meditation, security, insurance etc.
- Involves their SPP in the supportive process of exchange, networking and intervisitation.
- Reviews what is working and what is not doing so well in a supportive monitoring of practice.
The Hospitaller (or ideally a team of Hospitallers) role
- If possible being physically present, to add to the encouraging atmosphere, and convey their commitment to the Place’s well-being.
- Offering a simple and unobtrusive welcome and introducing visitors to the silence. (Not overwhelming or dominating, e.g. “May I introduce you to this place" and then gets out of the way. "I’m at the back if you have any questions”) Some visitors prefer to remain unknown and unnoticed.
- Holding the silence.
- Offering a non-judgmental listening ear, and perhaps leading simple and short time of prayer or reflection.
- Potentially providing simple hospitality – e.g. a cup of tea – or an indication of where such refreshment (and toilet facilities) can be found.
- Offering the possibility of thoughtful conversation that is exploratory and expectant, allows people to make their own connections, has no strings attached.
- Competent and confident (the parallel is befriender rather than professional counsellor, first aid volunteer rather than professional nurse).
- Warm and welcoming, but not effusive.
- Able to put people at their ease.
- Sensitive, respectful of others, not intrusive.
- Thoughtful, open and non-judgemental.