A pilgrimage is about transformation: it’s not a vacation or a tourist’s adventure. Pilgrims open themselves up to the people, the place, and the Holy Spirit as they become vulnerable to the journey. The sense of accomplishment and experience of finding a new understanding of the Holy can be life-changing.
Coming Up: Birmingham ~ Oct. 17-20, 2019
The Racial Inclusion Committee is planning a 4-day pilgrimage to Alabama to experience the history of the civil rights struggle in our nation. Firm reservations were due by June 30. The $600 cost includes accommodations, all museum admissions, three breakfasts, and bus transportation. If enough people prefer to arrange their own transportation to Alabama the price may be adjusted. To inquire as to remaining availability, email Vikki Nowak or call Barb Cloud.
Thursday, October 17
Arrive in Birmingham and visit focal point of Birmingham’s Civil Rights District, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Richly detailed exhibits in the Institute reveal slices of black and white life from the late 1800s to the present. Return to hotel to share insights on the day.
Friday, October 18
Breakfast at the Birmingham hotel and travel by bus to Selma to the Selma Interpretive Center – a welcome center for the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail located at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We’ll travel the Trail to Montgomery and visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the national lynching memorial. Return to Selma hotel to share insights on the day.
Saturday, October 19
Breakfast included at the Selman hotel, visit the Civil Rights Memorial and then to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. In this National Historic Landmark, we’ll see the modest pulpit where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. first preached his message of hope and brotherhood. We’ll visit King’s Parsonage home. Return to Selma hotel to share insights on the day.
Sunday, October 20
Breakfast included at the Selma hotel, and travel back to Birmingham to the Church at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and drive by Birmingham Jail– where King was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation.
Memphis & The Civil Rights Museum ~ 2016
Twenty-seven pilgrims from Forest Hill and two from the Church of the Saviour crowded onto a bus to Memphis for an unexpected journey of discovery. Beginning with the Lorraine Motel where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, the group toured the massive, recently renovated National Civil Rights Museum built around the motel. They also met with three iconic leaders of the radical Invaders group who met with Dr. King shortly before his death: business leader Fred Davis, attorney Julian Bolton, and Dr. Coby Smith. The three spoke and answered questions about the Civil Rights movement before and after King’s death. They were joined by 27-year-old anti-blight activist Brandon Gaitor with Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. and the MidSouth Peace & Justice Center.
Detroit & The Underground Railroad ~ 2015
The Underground Railroad Living Museum Flight to Freedom Tour presented a “storytelling” re-enactment of the original Underground Railroad passage that operated between 1840 and 1863. Our pilgrims were shackled with wrist bands at the entrance of the tour and transformed into passengers on the Underground Railroad. A moving and powerful experience for the 20+ participants.
Early Christian Roots in Rome and Italy ~ March 2013
Building on past pilgrimages to the Holy Lands of Israel and Palestine, and tracing the Apostle Paul’s footsteps through Turkey and Greece, in 2013, a group of 25 pilgrims explored the roots of the early Christian church in Rome and Italy. The 8-day trip included 6 days in the extraordinarily beautiful city of Rome and the Tuscany region.
Washington D.C. ~ October 2012
The pilgrimage to Washington D.C. continued the journey of our Courageous Conversations on Race begun in 2010 and included the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the African-American Civil War Museum, the exhibit of African-American history and culture at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and other civil rights sites. The trip was part of our on-going work to become a more hospitable, inclusive and diverse church family.
2011 ~ Early Christian Sites in Turkey and Greece
Participants joined Pastors Clover Beal and John Lentz, Ph.D. in New Testament scriptures, along with Dr. Timothy Beal, Ph.D. in Hebrew scriptures, for a pilgrimage to the cradle of Christianity in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Greece.
2009 ~ Israel/Palestine Holy Lands
The 32 members of the pilgrimage team to Israel/Palestine prepared for their trip by studying the Middle East with Dr. Peter Haas, attempting to get a better sense of the complicated issues between Israel and its neighbors. The participants envisioned their pilgrimage as not only for the individual, but about bringing home the experience for the community so that all might be shaped by it. Click for photos from the journey.
2008 ~ Ghost Ranch, New Mexico
In May, 2009, 18 members from Forest Hill, and 2 members from a UCC Church in Chagrin Falls, traveled to Abiquiu, New Mexico, for a Desert Pilgrimage at the 21,000-acre Ghost Ranch Retreat Center owned by the Presbyterian Church (USA). To learn more about this desert pilgrimage, explore various readings and reminiscences from the trip as well as photographs, visit ghostranch2008.shutterfly.com
2007 ~ Nicaragua
In June 2007, 12 pilgrims traveled to Nicaragua with International Partners in Mission for an immersion experience in the culture of the Nicaraguan people. The group was introduced to many projects, both urban and rural, developed and implemented by local women and men that addressed the needs of their communities.
2006 ~ Iona, Scotland
The first Forest Hill pilgrimage was to the Abbey of Iona, on the Isle of Iona in Scotland. A group of 12 pilgrims spent one week in July in community with others from all over Great Britain. The days were filled with the rhythm of worshipful work, worship and prayers, communal discussion, and hiking the beautiful island.