The Archdeacon of Lancaster successfully swapped the pulpit for a parachute this month when he made a tandem jump from 15,000 feet for charity.
The Venerable Michael Everitt described his recent experience, at the Black Knights Parachuting School at Cockerham Airfield, as “literally a leap of faith.”
It was the senior clergyman’s first ever experience of parachute jumping and he far exceeded his expectations in donations.
The Archdeacon was aiming to raise funding to help him support the work of the Peru Mission in the city of Iquitos, located deep in the Amazon basin.
The Mission works with disadvantaged poor people, in feeding, health care and education, as well as faith, working with local communities in all of its projects.
His initial target was £950 – at the time of writing that figure had reached more than triple the amount, at just over £3,000.
Archdeacon Michael underwent basic training before being taken aloft in a light aircraft and strapped to experienced parachute teacher Lee Rhodes, who saw him safely back to earth after a fall lasting some six minutes.
Archdeacon Michael said: “It was quite literally a leap of faith.
“For me to jump out of an aeroplane involved not just facing my darkest thoughts, I also needed to have faith.
“Faith in the testimony of those who have done it before, and complete confidence in the expertise of the person I was strapped to and the quality of the equipment we used.”
Archdeacon Michael recently expanded on those ‘dark thoughts’ about jumping out of a plane in his regular Lancaster Guardian column.
He said: “It was an exhilarating experience to see Lancashire from a whole new perspective, free falling at nearly 160 miles an hour.
“It was also a wonderful chance to literally pray over the county and I took the opportunity to do so!
“I had fantastic support for the jump and, via sponsorship, for the excellent work of the Peru Mission.”
The English project co-ordinator, Joe Plumb, is the British Consul – he went out to Peru as a Catholic Priest, but later moved into this work.
“The school that we will be working with has been created by the local community, and we will be building a classroom with local workers,” said Archdeacon Michael.
“The current buildings are temporary, made from zinc and with limited sanitation and catering facilities.
“We will also do some teaching and engagement, as well as being part of the mission work which links with the local Catholic and Pentecostal churches.
“My jump has led to many fascinating conversations: from my bishop colleague, who said he would sponsor me not to do it, to others who have offered large sums if I do it without a parachute!”
The entire experience was recorded on video, including helmet-mounted cameras.