St. John’s is so blessed to have a congregation that greatly values its children and youth. The Pilgrimage is a huge undertaking for the entire church. From the parents who commit to keeping their children engaged to the volunteers who connect with the pilgrims for two plus years, to the church members who cheer the pilgrims on by supporting their fundraisers, encouraging their work and praying for them. We are grateful and so lucky to be able to provide our youth with the opportunity to experience a pilgrimage.

For the first time, probably ever, we have TWO pilgrimage groups running at the same time! Covid forced the 2022 Ireland Pilgrim Group to postpone their trip planned for June of 2021 to this June. Currently, the Ireland Pilgrims – who have been through 3 youth leader changes, a postponed pilgrimage and now a school strike – are scheduled to depart on June 13th for Dublin! These pilgrims are current 10th and 11th graders from 6 different school districts. The focus of their pilgrimage is Celtic Christianity and Our Anglican Roots, and our focus will have four parts:

  • Pilgrimage – Discovering your own path to God
  • The Immanent Presence of God (thin places) God is a key part of all things natural and beautiful.
  • Monasticism and Community – Learn from the Celtic Christians’ emphasis on community, embracing those with different backgrounds and what that means in our own lives.
  • Art and Symbolism – The interweaving patterns of Celtic art represent that “all things relate” and that “all things are holy”.

Remembering that the youth going are 15 – 17, we also plan to spend time eating tasty, Irish fare, experiencing the life of St. Brigid through Virtual Reality, sleeping in Yurts in Newgrange, and spending our free time exploring both Ireland and Northern Ireland. Thank you for your prayers for this Pilgrimage Group and their brave leaders! Leaders:  Howie Anderson, Rachel Gagliardi, Matt Olson and Beka Gonzalez-Olson. Youth: Berit, Cash, Darby, Evan, Elizabeth, Kamryn, Luc, Mac, Mika and Mikayla.  Please join us as they are blessed for their journey at the 9am service at St. John’s on Sunday, June 5th.

The next group of Pilgrims, who are current 8th and 9th graders, have spent the majority of the programming year working through their values, spiritual gifts, beliefs and interests to help them determine where they would like to travel on their 2023 Pilgrimage.  After much prayer and work, they have decided to travel to Greece in the Footsteps of Paul! Next year, these pilgrims will “journey” with Paul on his travels and learn about the beginnings of the Christian church to prepare for our pilgrimage. Our focus will be the following:

  • Focus – Learn about ancient Christianity and follow in the footsteps of Paul. Paul changed from a murderer of Christians to an Apostle of Jesus. He traveled extensively teaching about Jesus and setting up churches. We will also look at immigration and refugees in Greece and learn about the causes and needs.
  • Learning Opportunities – How did Paul make positive changes in his life? How did he follow Jesus even though he was an imperfect human? How do we make positive changes and choices and live our lives for Jesus? Why is Greece getting so many refugees? What does this mean for us? How do we respond as Christians to crisis?

This group, that we will now call the 2023 GREECE Pilgrims, will travel in June of 2023. Thank you for your continued support of their work as they prepare for their pilgrimage, your prayers and your help with the fundraisers they run. We are still looking for more adult leaders for this group, especially those who identify as male, so please contact Heather if you have an interest in becoming a part of our group!

Heather Miller
Minister of Children, Youth, and Families