Photo Credit: Jamelle Bouie/Wikimedia Commons
[The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church, has announced a new initiative and partnership to encourage young adults to engage in racial reconciliation and justice at the important site of Ferguson, MO [where an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer].
Bishop Sauls announced that [TEC] young adults 18 to 30 years old are invited to apply for a Young Adult Pilgrimage to Ferguson, MO on October 8 – 12 sponsored by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.
The primary focus of the Young Adult Pilgrimage to Ferguson is to learn to engage in racial justice and reconciliation in a locale that has experienced significant racial tensions since the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown.
“Ferguson was an obvious choice for this pilgrimage given the experiences it has lived for the past year, though Ferguson’s experience could have played out in any town or city in America,” Bishop Sauls said. “Our goal is to learn and model justice, in response to racial division and strife, and to walk the road of reconciliation in communities throughout The Episcopal Church.”
The innovative event is coordinated and presented by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society through its Offices of Racial Reconciliation and Young Adult and Campus Ministry. The event is co-sponsored with the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) and co-hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.
"A tourist merely passes through a place; a pilgrim comes to a place in a posture of vulnerability and then allows the place and its people in,” noted Bishop Wayne Smith of the Diocese of Missouri. “No one intended it, but through the ravages of racism, past and current, St. Louis has become a place for pilgrims. There is holy ground here, and no one can stand on it and encounter its people without being changed.”
Bishop Smith added, "Ferguson is a hard place but the right place for the Young Adult Pilgrimage this fall. The people of this Diocese are eager to welcome the pilgrims."
Among the events slated for the Pilgrimage are a visit to the location where Michael Brown died; engagement with local clergy and community leaders who have addressed justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of protests; innovative workshops; and spirit-filled community worship.
“The participants will learn about community organizing and advocacy for racial reconciliation while engaging in leadership development and spiritual formation,” explained Heidi Kim, Missioner for Racial Reconciliation for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.
In order to continue the process of racial reconciliation, participants are expected to undertake a project in their community that demonstrates engagement on issues of racial justice and reconciliation. “Part of the application process is for the applicant to present a proposal for a community project,” Kim said. “While the details of the project may be altered following the pilgrimage, it is important for everyone to be prepared to take what they learn back to his or her community.”