Saturday, 29 June 2013

The J2A Pilgrimage

The combined congregations of All Saints Westboro and First United are sending six teens from our joint Journey to Adulthood programme on a pilgrimage to Alaska in July 2013.
Pilgrimage in its truest sense is religiously motivated travel for the purpose of meeting and experiencing God with hopes of being shaped and changed by that encounter. -- Rev. Dr. Arthur Paul BoersThe Way is Made by Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino de Santiago
Pilgrimage is not the same as tourism; here are some of the differences:



  • Travel to see and experience new things
  • A break in normal responsibilities and routines to slow down and rest
  • Can be comfortable or extreme
  • Involves relaxation and play
  • Purpose of tourism is is sight-seeing, experience and education
  • A tourist  is detached, objective and observing
  • Travel and dislocation to an unfamiliar place
  • A break in normal responsibilities and routines to slow down and work in God’s time
  • Moves us beyond our comfort zone
  • Is psychologically and spiritually taxing work to weaken barriers
  • Purpose of pilgrimage is encountering God and God’s truths insight and transformation
  • A pilgrim is intimately challenged and changed

The group has been working for nearly two years planning this trip. All the teens have fund-raised their costs; we have worked together as a group to build individual and team skills; we used a rigorous process of discernment to choose the destination and activities; and now we are ready to travel and be transformed as a group.

While discerning the best destination to meet all our needs, it became very apparent that we all shared this: we feel closest to our Creator when we are in the middle of undisturbed creation. Although we considered a number of more traditional pilgrimage destinations, Alaska alone offered the huge opportunities to feel and see the full force of Nature, and thus to feel and see God.
I don’t think it is enough appreciated how much an outdoor book the Bible is. It is a book open to the sky. It is best read and understood outdoors, and the farther outdoors the better. Passages that within walls seem improbable or incredible, outdoors seem merely natural. What the Bible might mean, or how it could mean anything, in a closed, air-conditioned building, I do not know. – Wendell Berry

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