by Paula Schaap, Director of Communications, Episcopal Diocese of Northern California
Youth from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California begin their journey toward reconciliation in northern California on Sunday, July 31st with the Pathways pilgrimage. The group will be on the road until August 6th, learning strategies for reconciliation, as they visit sites in our diocese where injustices have been committed in society's name.
This pilgrimage is especially timely as it occurs on the eve of the anniversary of the World War II atomic bombing of Japan's Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Earlier in the war, hundreds of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry were forcibly relocated to 10 concentration camps, one of the largest was at Tule Lake, on the border between California and Oregon. Many of the families that were housed in the camps lost everything. This site is one of the stops on the pilgrimage.
Led by young people from churches in our diocese, this pilgrimage is part of a three-year commitment to learn about reconciliation in the U.S. and abroad. Last year, pilgrims from our diocese traveled to North Carolina as part of the Lift Every Voice: Freedom Ride, and were joined by youth from around the country and also Botswana and Cape Town, South Africa, where they revisited the historical truths of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. "It's more powerful to be at a place," said Kirstyn Teuscher, a college sophomore who helped organize this summer's Pathways event and attended the Lift Every Voice: Freedom Ride. To be "at the counter," where civil rights organizers held their non-violent protest in a Woolworth's in Greensboro, N.C., reinforced Teuscher's conviction that "we have to be the change in the world," she said. Teuscher teaches Sunday school at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Mt. Shasta.
This summer's pilgrimage includes an educational component, where participants will be learning concrete strategies to be ministers of reconciliation, peace and healing in their own communities. "The work of racial reconciliation in our society is rooted in a deep and very old need for justice and healing," Bishop Barry Beisner shares. "The events of recent years make it even more crucial that we look together at our common history and at the ways our faith can teach us, knowing that the Holy Spirit can transform us."
A number of the youth leaders from our diocese who will be on the Pathways pilgrimages also traveled to South Africa earlier this summer with the 2016 Lift Every Voice pilgrims to witness the works of reconciliation implemented by Archbishop Desmond Tutu there. To learn more about this event, please click here.
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