Youth Leaders Reflect on a Journey of Reconciliation

Youth Leaders Reflect on a Journey of Reconciliation

by Paula Schaap, Communications Director

This summer, Maddison Vernon, a young adult leader at Church of the Incarnation, Santa Rosa, had a chance to see how a journey to learn about reconciliation, carried out over time and in different countries – and in her own community – can bear fruit.

Vernon was nominated to represent the Russian River Deanery on the North Carolina Freedom Ride that took place in the summer of 2015. That trip was crafted as a three-year pilgrimage to help participants learn about slavery and the Civil Rights movement, to be followed up by a trip to South Africa and a study of the legacy of apartheid this summer.

But Vernon and other young adult leaders from the Diocese of Northern California wanted to commit to learning more about historical injustices that happened at home and explore ways of moving forward with reconciliation efforts in their own communities.

Out of that commitment came Pathways 2016. Organized by the young adults and Anne Clarke, the Lifelong Christian Formation Coordinator for the diocese, this summer’s California pilgrimage visited the Tule Lake Segregation Center, the Lava Beds National Monument and other sites.

Vernon, who participated in all the journeys so far, said it made a difference to be able to build on the original experience.

"All three of these pilgrimages tackled hard issues in our society that are going on,” she said.

A striking point in the pilgrimage was the visit to Tule Lake, where Angela Sutton, the park ranger giving the tour, talked about her own journey to understanding what had happened when Japanese-Americans were imprisoned during World War II. Growing up in the area, Sutton was told the stories that the camps were for the protection of those interned.

For more on the Tule Lake experience and a meditation from Anne Clarke, Lifelong Christian Formation Coordinator, please click here.

“I have been thinking about the weight she carries on her shoulder to educate her own community all by herself,” said Charis Hill, a member of Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, who accompanied the group as a chaplain.

The pilgrimage was not only educational, however – it was also a chance to affirm the role of the young adult leaders in the life of the church, as well as to have them build community with their younger peers.

“I was absolutely floored by the young adult leaders’ openness and the way they bonded with each other – they were all in as far as creating relationships with trust,” said Mary Taggart, another adult chaplain from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Healdsburg.

Daphne Vernon, Associate for Children and Youth at Church of the Incarnation, and also Maddison’s mother, said the example set by the young participants revitalized her own sense of mission.

“It gave me a lot of hope, gave me an injection of energy, in seeing how the canvas is broadening for the church, for the young people – it’s not just a few of us and includes a whole variety of ages,” she said.

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