Pathways 2019: A visit to Humboldt county changes lives

Pathways 2019: A visit to Humboldt county changes lives

Ted Hernandez, Chairman of the Wiyot Tribe shared the stories of his people.

The pilgrims take time for a photo with Betty Chinn, who shared her life story with them.

Kevin and Melanie Cunningham, farmers at the Shakefork Farm, instructed on sustainable farming practices.

“Our Pathways Youth Pilgrimage this summer took us to Humboldt County where we felt the presence of God in the land and in the lives of all the people we met. From speaking to the Chairman of the Wiyot Tribe, Ted Hernandez, meeting Betty Chinn, founder of the Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation, visiting St. Alban’s, Arcata; Christ Church, Eureka; and Shakefork Community Farm, the land and the people we met taught us about the amazing ability of both people and creation to persevere and be renewed.”

“We worshiped together and with our new friends, we were welcomed as pilgrims to sacred spaces and sacred lives and we experienced the transforming love Christ as we grew in community.” These are the words of The Rev. Sarah Quinney, Missioner for Youth Discipleship, who led this year’s trip. There were 30 youth participants and 12 young adult leaders who made the trek to the northwest corner of the diocese. Read more here.

Among the young adult leaders was Emily Dedo of St. James, Lincoln. She mentions that she had been a student on two other pilgrimages in 2017 and 2018. She said, “I use the skills I’ve learned from Pathways in my everyday life. I believe it has made me calmer and more understanding, especially in times of disagreements.” In fact, Emily was able to teach some of those same skills to students on this year’s pilgrimage: “Being a leader meant the world to me. It gave me a new perspective on leadership, listening and understanding a community beyond the one I live in.”

Pastor Sarah also communicated that one of the most impactful experiences was listening to Betty Chinn share the story of her life. Her deeply personal story was shared with the Pathways pilgrims in a transformative and vulnerable way. After touring the group around her foundation and showing them the work she does with homeless teenagers, Betty began to share her personal story. She had never shared this story with teenagers before, but felt moved to do so because the students made her feel safe.  Her demeanor and the service in which she engages caused one of the pilgrims to ask, “Is she a human or is she an angel”. The lives of Betty and of the pilgrims will be forever changed because of their meeting.

Another young adult leader, Shelby Larkey of St. Augustine, Rocklin, shared about the resilience of our youth. She said, “The faith and love shared, the bonds formed, and the quality engagement in program showed that God was with us every step of the way.”

Pathways is an important part of the formation of the youth in this diocese.  We are able to use the lessons and experiences to fill gaps that exist in the understanding and learning of the participants by putting them face to face with history, geography and sociology. It gives our youth exposure to the history and complexity of the land in which we live. Experiences with Shakefork Farm, Betty Chinn and Ted Hernandez help us to learn about the “other person” in the place in which they live. The students ask this question: What does this land and these people have to tell me about myself?

They the see the work in the churches and places they visit and return home to activate and motivate others to that work.

“I went to Pathways and I was overwhelmed with the feeling of God’s presence,” said Ellie Larson, a 9th grader from St. John’s, Roseville. “It really helped me strengthen my relationship with God and helped me make friends. Pathways had changed my life in the best way possible."

Students lead their own worship at Christ Church, Eureka and at Humbolt State University

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