Vicar's mission to set up surf churches around the world
PUBLISHED: 12:13 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:26 28 October 2019
A Weston vicar and his family are walking 500 miles in 35 days to mark the start of their world tour to plant surf churches all over the globe.
The Rev Richard Ellerington is walking the gruelling Camino de Santiago between France and Spain with his surfboard on his back, to raise awareness of his mission.
Richard, the former leader of Holy Trinity Church, his wife Regi Ellerington-Hofer and their three children left Weston seven years ago to set up a church for surfers in France.
Surf Church Hossegor is now thriving - attracting hundreds of thousands of people each year - so the family has decided to up sticks again to travel the world and inspire others to plant surf churches.
The Ellerington family set off on the 500-mile walk between France and Spain on October 12, and have battled 50mph gusts of wind while climbing up and down the mountainous terrain.
Speaking during the trek, Richard said: "People are desperately spiritual and searching for answers, but very nervous of institutions.
"We wanted to create a church which was more accessible to the surfing community.
"We held church on the beach, in a nightclub, a bar and a casino. Then, in 2014, we were given a Catholic chapel.
"We transformed the building into a café, cinema and gig venue and we hold events like fashion shows and skating activities.
"Surf church is on the beach. It's very relaxed, with surfboards and art on the walls and sofas to sit on and chill out.
"It's very much a group dynamic of sharing stories together and working out what the Bible is saying."
Richard and Regi have decided to hand over the leadership of Surf Church Hossegor to share their expertise in setting up surf churches.
When they arrive in Spain, the family will enjoy a celebratory surf, before preparing for their travels in the new year.
Richard said: "We are heading to Africa, Indonesia, Australia, South America, the USA and then we'll be coming home to see where we are.
"The plan is just to see what's happening around the world, to tell our story of what's happening in France and to help others with a passion to set up churches.
"It's extremely exciting."
You can sponsor Richard's mission by logging on to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/surfchurch