With our pilgrimage to Greece only about 3 months away, the pilgrims have been working hard to complete fundraisers, engage in weekly lessons and take part in community service as well as service to St. John’s. We are very excited for the warm weather, beaches and world class museums that we will no doubt partake in, but there is also another exciting energy within the pilgrim group which is the true purpose behind why we are going to Greece. The youth, after almost a year of discernment exercises, chose Greece not only for the fact that it is GREECE, but because they wanted to learn more about the Syrian refugees and the apostle Paul. The youth wanted to study immigration and talk with the local voices about their experiences.
We have spent time learning about immigration in the USA and especially in Minnesota. We have looked at questions such as; What are the effects of immigration on our lives? How are we expected to respond as Christians? How does knowledge about refugees relate to our responsibilities as Christians? We will have a chance to meet with villagers in Lesvos to hear first-hand accounts of how refugee arrivals have changed the town, and how locals responded to the crisis in 2015 (later being awarded the Nobel peace prize as a result). The youth and chaperones are not only excited to travel for the sheer joy of traveling, but also for the opportunity that comes from traveling with a purpose. To gain knowledge and understanding of another’s lived experiences as well as to learn more about ourselves and our relationship with God is a true gift that St. John’s helps to give to its youth through the pilgrimage program.
The Greece Pilgrims will be departing on Sunday, June 18th and returning on Wednesday, June 28th. We will begin in Athens and then travel to the island of Lesvos, then to Thessoloniki, Meterora, Delphi and finally back to Athens. We will visit the Acropolis, the place of Lydia’s conversion to Christianity, the Byzantine monasteries of Meteora and the ancient ruins in Delphi. We will get to walk in the footsteps of St. Paul and meet with NGO’s and refugees. We will spend quiet time together, time in nature and time in community. Please pray for the Greece pilgrims as they finish up their preparation for their journey – that they may learn, grow and be blessed with new knowledge and understanding in their lives.
The Greece Pilgrimage will be the last pilgrimage of its kind before we make updates to the pilgrimage program. We are planning to make the program more inclusive and relevant to families and pilgrims. Also we want to ensure that all youth, regardless of whether they choose to travel on the pilgrimage, are still able to be a part of youth programming at St. John’s. We are looking into possibilities for those who would like to be a part of a service project as well as travel that is intergenerational in nature. All ideas and suggestions are welcome as we work to continue the pilgrimage program for our youth in a way that works for everyone! Please join us at our upcoming meetings to make decisions about updating the program: Sunday, 4/23 from 1:30 – 2:30pm in the Library, May meeting dates TBD.
Minister of Children, Youth, and Families