“Beating the bounds” is an ancient custom of the British church combining both religious and secular purposes. Old and young members of the community would walk the boundaries of the parish to reaffirm and share the knowledge of where they lay, and to pray for protection and blessings for the parish land.
When maps were rare, this allowed the parish boundaries to be handed down, a kind of community data backup. Armed with green boughs, usually birch or willow, members “beat” the parish boundary markers shouting “Mark, Mark, Mark.” Younger members were always included to ensure that witnesses to the boundaries should survive as long as possible. Clergy offered prayers, asking for God to bless the land and its harvest. While the secular purpose has been superseded by modern surveyors, “beating of the bounds” continues as a way of strengthening the community and giving it a sense of place.
“Pilgrimage is a very ancient Christian tradition, and this is a brief pilgrimage,” says the Reverend Wilkes, vicar of St. Michael’s, Oxford. “When we mark our parish we mark that bit of Earth’s territory that is ours. In the Anglican tradition a congregation is given a part of the earth to pray and think about.”
For All Saints’ Concord, that part of the earth is at the corner of Lake Concord and Country Club Roads. See you at 10 AM November 3rd! Please contact the office if you are mobility impaired and would like to participate. We are making arrangements for carts to transport parishioners who are not able to walk and need to have accurate numbers of places needed.
See you at the electric sign board at the street for the start of something unique!