As rockets rain down on Israel and that country escalates action against Hamas in Gaza, a group of intrepid pilgrims set off to explore the Holy Land.
Worshippers from St Mary’s Church in Ewell, joined others from churches around Epsom and Ewell, and yesterday flew out to the troubled country for a 10-day pilgrimage.
Leading the 34-strong group is Reverend John Baxter, a retired priest who lives in the parish and helps at the church.
At least 25 people are reported to have died as Israeli forces continue air strikes in a bid to prevent rocket attacks launched from Gaza.
But asked whether the trip should be cancelled in the light of the escalating violence Mr Baxter said: "No, because God has called in faith and in faith we go in peace to share his love with all the people of Israel."
Professor David Dance, a member of the congregation, added that everyone was very positive and looking forward to the journey with great excitement.
The pilgrimage will start in Galilee where the group will visit Nazareth and Cana. They will then travel via Jericho and the Judean desert for a six-night stay in Jerusalem.