Insight to Youth Stories

Insight to Youth Stories 150 150 Pilgrimage 2022

Important Reminder – While testimonies can be uplifting and heart-warming, they can also trigger difficult and unpleasant emotions or memories for those who relate closely to them, particularly if the similar struggle is ongoing or feels unresolved in some way. Sometimes, this can move someone to change or grow in a positive way. It’s important, as leaders, to support youth by validating difficult emotions (using words and body language to confirm that how they feel is justified) and allowing them a safe space to feel heard by listening without judgment.

  1. Bailey talks about hearing loss, feeling lonely and distant from God, and realizing the world is not a supportive place (feeling othered). She describes the pandemic as a time of isolation and darkness. She goes on to reframe her hearing loss as a blessing and encourages others to trust God to work all things together for good. This testimony may trigger difficult emotions in those who have any physical or emotional disability. Particularly for individuals who may be feeling isolated or othered by a physical disability or do not view the disability as a blessing. It may also be difficult for those who also experienced isolation and/or distance from God in the pandemic. Finally, this testimony may cause very difficult emotions for those who lost a loved one in the pandemic and as such, do not feel that this time (the pandemic) has worked out for the best.
  2. Amani shares about a succession of losses (grandparents) and distance from God followed by social rejection and toxic relationships that led her to a dark place. She shares that finding Christian community unintentionally changed her life for the better. Amani’s testimony may trigger difficult emotions for those who are experiencing grief or loss of some kind. It may be difficult for those who are feeling socially rejected or isolated (lonely), are in unhealthy, toxic relationships, or are experiencing heart ache from the end of a relationship or lack of relationship. Finally, this testimony may be difficult for those who have not found or are longing to find healing Christian community, particularly for those who feel socially rejected or isolated in some way.


Devotionals 150 150 Pilgrimage 2022

Friday Night Devotion: Healing Takes Community

The paralytic

Mark 2:1-12
After a few days, Jesus went back to Capernaum, and people heard that he was at home. 2 So many gathered that there was no longer space, not even near the door. Jesus was speaking the word to them. 3 Some people arrived, and four of them were bringing to him a man who was paralyzed. 4 They couldn’t carry him through the crowd, so they tore off part of the roof above where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they lowered the mat on which the paralyzed man was lying. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven!”
6 Some legal experts were sitting there, muttering among themselves, 7 “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”
8 Jesus immediately recognized what they were discussing, and he said to them, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? 9 Which is easier—to say to a paralyzed person, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk’? 10 But so you will know that the Human One[a] has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, 11 “Get up, take your mat, and go home.”
12 Jesus raised him up, and right away he picked up his mat and walked out in front of everybody. They were all amazed and praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

Reflection by Catherine Stallsmith, 2022 Graduate of Elon University

Maybe some of us have heard this scripture before – what I remember most from learning this passage growing up was the faith of paralytic. He believed that Jesus would heal him and so he was healed. This faith is important and it matters, but today I want to focus on a different part of the story – the friends who helped the paralyzed man get to Jesus.

The scripture tells us that the place where Jesus was was so crowded that no one could get in the door. We can infer that a lot of people had heard of the healing power of Jesus and wanted to be healed. The paralytic man was not alone in that – he shared the beliefs of many, though society at large still questioned Jesus as a figure of change and justice.

We don’t learn much about the four people who carried the man to Jesus. We don’t know if they were friends or strangers or if they believed in Jesus’ healing powers or not. Whatever their motivations, they wanted to see this man healed. Regardless of their backgrounds, the man could not have been healed without them.

Healing takes community. The paralyzed man believed that Jesus would heal him, but he was paralyzed – he couldn’t get to Jesus on his own. Regardless of how strong his faith was, he couldn’t do it alone. He had to trust his community – whoever it was – to help him become healed.
Our community will look different depending on our season of life and depending on our needs in each specific situation. Sometimes our community will be our close friends and family – those we trust, and who have complete context and empathy for our situation. Other times, our community will be strangers, even those who we might assume are against us instead of for us.

God calls us to be in community with one another – we are not called to be Christians alone. That is why we gather at connectional events like Pilgrimage – to be with each other. Do you have friends that live far away that you look forward to seeing at Pilgrimage every year? Those friends are your community. We cannot do God’s work alone, and we were not designed to. That is why we are connected in ministry through our churches, districts, and wider UMC connection.

It is always okay to ask for help. We cannot live this life or walk this path by ourselves. Your youth pastor, youth group members, parents/guardians, family members, and church members are all examples of people you can turn to for help whether you need spiritual or physical healing.

Discussion Questions:

  • Who is your community?
  • Can you think of a time where you needed healing and someone (or multiple people) helped you to get what you needed?
  • Is it easy for you to ask for help? What prevents you from asking for help when you need it?

Prayer to Close:

O God, by the grace of the Holy Spirit
you poured the gift of love
into the hearts of your faithful people.
Give your servants who are gathered here,
the health of body and soul and mind,
that they may love you with all their strength,
and moved by love, do what pleases you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Adapted from Gregorian Sacramentary)

Saturday Night Devotion: Self-Advocacy and Healing

The Woman Who was Healed

Mark 5: 21-43
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Reflection by Freya Dahlgren, Meredith College Junior

The woman who has been bleeding for 12 years knew Jesus could heal her so she sought Jesus out in the crowd and touched his robe. Jairus, the synagogue leader, sought out Jesus to heal his daughter. The woman’s touch immediately miraculously healed her. The woman pursued what she needed and advocated for herself and her necessary healing. In verse 34, Jesus says “Daughter, your faith has healed you; go in peace, healed from your disease.” The woman’s faith in Jesus is the catalyst for her healing found in the touch.

However, faith alone cannot fully heal. Healing takes action and self-advocacy for what you need. Healing is a long, drawn out, intense process and is not accomplished in a day. In her book, Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans states that, “there is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome.”

So often, pain and suffering are seen as unholy and a failure of faith. But I want you to know that boldly facing pain and suffering is one of the most holy acts you can take. Jesus performed miracles, he didn’t provide cures. Evans also states that, “the church doesn’t offer a cure. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace.”

The grace of God is here to pick you up in your brokenness and love you fully through your struggle. Leaning on and supporting your siblings in Christ through hard things is what we are called to do as Christians. No one walks their faith journey alone.

Healing is hard. Healing is intense. Healing is no small feat.

In this passage, the woman acknowledges that she was fearful leading up to her touching Jesus’ coat but that fear lead to peace. Our healing is like that, too. Jumping into healing is scary. Not knowing how healing will affect us and how we will change because of it can be terrifying. But, Jesus encourages us to seek healing and to take the leap of faith to find such holy peace.

It’s our job as Christians in accordance with our brothers and sisters to be loving to our neighbors, no matter what stage of healing they are in or what they may need. Everyone is made by God, for God and is precious in God’s eyes. We are called to see this and to live, love, serve, pray, and witness God every day and in doing so, we embrace everyone in the everlasting love of Christ.

I want you to know that Our God is an almighty and powerful God who does no harm and will always love you. Use that knowledge today and every day as you seek to serve God in our brokenness and support our siblings in Christ in their healing.

Discussion Questions:

  • How are you in need of healing?
  • Have you already started healing from something? How did you do that?
  • How can your siblings in Christ be supporting you in your healing journey?

Possible Quotes on Healing to Discuss:

  • “No one really teaches you how to grieve the loss of your faith. You’re on your own for that”
  • “Churches should be the most honest place in town, not the happiest place in town” – Walter Bruggermann
  • “Food is the language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails” – Shauna Neiquist
  • “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share in our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand” -Henri Nouwen
  • “But there is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome”
  • “The thing about healing, as opposed to curing, is that it is relational. It takes time. It is inefficient, like a meandering river. Rarely does healing follow a straight or well-lit path. Rarely does it conform to our expectations or resolve in a timely manner. Walking with someone through grief, or through the process of reconciliation, requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route.”
  • “The church doesn’t offer a cure. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace”
  • “I went to church thinking it would be like an epidural, that it would take the pain away…But church isn’t like an epidural; it’s like a midwife…I thought faith would say, ‘I’ll take away the pain and discomfort,’ but what it ended up saying was, ‘I’ll sit with you in it.’” – Brene Brown

Prayer to Close:

O God, by the grace of the Holy Spirit
you poured the gift of love
into the hearts of your faithful people.
Give your servants who are gathered here,
the health of body and soul and mind,
that they may love you with all their strength,
and moved by love, do what pleases you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Adapted from Gregorian Sacramentary)

Youth Leader Guide for Pilgrimage 2022

Youth Leader Guide for Pilgrimage 2022 150 150 Pilgrimage 2022

Youth Leader Guide for Pilgrimage 2022

If you are a group leader attending Pilgrimage 2022, this guide is for you.

Weekend Schedule

The schedule for the Pilgrimage 2022 weekend can be found here. All Pilgrimage-associated events are listed on the schedule.

There are four general sessions: Friday Evening, Saturday Morning, Saturday Evening and Sunday Morning. The general sessions take place at the Rocky Mount Event Center. Read more about the venue below.

For in-person attendees: the venue doors open before the start of the session and the session starts promptly at the published time on the schedule.

For virtual attendees: the live event stream will begin 15 minutes prior to the start of the session.

Additionally: for those attending the event in person: there are a couple of options for activities on Saturday Afternoon including Rise Against Hunger, Camp Fun Day (this event is full), lunch options and more.

What You Can Expect During a General Session

Each of the four general sessions are approximately 2 hours in length. The format of the general sessions is “concert-style” in that there is a main stage in which attendees engage with the event by watching and engaging with the events that are taking place on stage. Additionally, each general session is guided by the event theme.

During each general session you can expect a Holy Spirit-driven experience that includes: live music performed by the Pilgrimage House Band (with lyrics available so attendees can sing along), talks/presentations from ministries of the NC Conference, scripture readings (led by youth of the NC Conference), youth of the NC Conference sharing their faith story, creative arts features by youth of the NC Conference, sermons from our two main speakers (who you can learn more about at this link), and more!

Pilgrimage is driven, designed and executed in partnership between youth of the NC Conference and adult servant-leaders. While there are some adults present on the main stage at Pilgrimage, the overwhelming majority of speakers and contributors are youth. It has, and always will be, a top priority of the Pilgrimage ministry to feature and promote youth voices as a key pillar of the event.

Being Present at Pilgrimage 

We ask that group leaders encourage youth attendees to be present at Pilgrimage during the General Sessions. Concessions and vendors will close at the start of the session. Movement in and around the Rocky Mount Event Center should be limited during the sessions.

Registration and Checking-In

Check-in for the event takes place on Friday Evening and Saturday Morning. When you check-in, you will receive your access passes for the four general sessions, as well as additional information about the event. An access pass is a physical card attached to a lanyard. Every attendee attending Pilgrimage 2022 (whether a youth or a group leader) must have an access pass to gain access to the Pilgrimage 2022 event. Additionally, each attendee must wear their access pass around their neck at all times they are present at the Rocky Mount Event Center. Venue security will not grant access to the event without an access pass. The card has a small section for an attendee to write their name. While we will have some permanent markers for groups to use to write their name on the access pass, we recommend that you bring a permanent marker for your group.

To check your registration numbers, simply log into your account. Please note that your account will only show you registration details for the four general sessions of Pilgrimage. If you registered for other events, such as Rise Against Hunger or Camp Fun Day, you will have received an email confirming your registration.

The deadline to request refunds was on October 31, 2022.

Venue Details

Venue details apply to those attending Pilgrimage 2022 in-person.

The four general sessions take place at the Rocky Mount Event Center in Rocky Mount, NC. For more information on the venue, click here. As mentioned above, all attendees require an access pass to gain access to the Rocky Mount Event Center for the four general sessions.

There are 2 parking lots adjacent to the Rocky Mount Event Center which is where you will park. The parking lots are surface lots, so you do not need to worry about height-restrictions that are common with parking decks. Each of these parking lots are on the opposite side of the venue from the main entrance. Please follow the posted signs after you park to navigate to the main venue entrance. You can find a map that directs you to the parking lots at this link. Please print the parking pass that can be found at this link to place in your vehicle.

Food and Lodging Information

Pilgrimage (and it’s partners) have worked to provide meal options for Saturday Lunch and Saturday Dinner — you can find details on those options at this link. Additionally, there are restaurant options for food throughout the weekend. Restaurant options (provided by the local chamber of commerce) can be found at this link.

While you most likely have already coordinated your lodging plans, there are a variety of lodging options for Pilgrimage 2022 within the Rocky Mount area. A list of options (provided by the local chamber of commerce) can be found at this link.

Banner Processional on Sunday Morning

In-Person Attendees

As the opening event of the Sunday Morning general session, banners are able to be carried by 2 youth as a way to represent their church’s attendance. See details on banner requirements at this link.

Those wishing to participate in the banner processional should plan to arrive at the Rocky Mount Event Center no later than 45 minutes prior to the start of the session. Additionally, there is a separate entrance for the 2 youth that are carrying the church’s banner during the processional. This entrance is closer to the parking lot than the main entrance – it is on the South side of the building, which is to the left of the loading dock if you are looking at the building from the parking lot. There will be attendants present on Sunday Morning to direct banner carriers to the correct entrance.

As the Banner Processional uses the main walkways in the venue, groups must be seated by 9:40 a.m. If a group is not seated by 9:40 a.m., they will be asked to wait in the lobby until the Banner Processional is over.

Virtual Attendees

Groups attending Pilgrimage 2022 virtually are able to submit a photo of a banner, or a graphic (think: powerpoint slide, image, etc) that will be featured on the screens at Pilgrimage 2022 during the live banner processional.

The group leader that registered the group will receive a virtual experience-specific email from prior to the start of the event with more information on how to submit a banner photo or graphic.

Rise Against Hunger

Rise Against Hunger is a Saturday Afternoon activity at Pilgrimage 2022. This activity requires registration. Additionally, there are two shifts for groups to participate in Rise Against Hunger. Shift times can be found at this link. Rise Against Hunger takes place at the Rocky Mount Event Center.

For groups participating in the first shift of Rise Against Hunger, please stay in your seats following the Saturday Morning session. Shortly after other attendees depart the venue, instructions will be provided to direct first-shift participants to participate in Rise Against Hunger.

For groups participating in the second shift of Rise Against Hunger, you should leave the Rocky Mount Event Center after the Saturday Morning session and return at 1:15 p.m. When arriving, please enter through the main entrance for the venue and navigate to the gym, which is to the right of the area where the general sessions take place.

Camp Fun Day

Camp Fun Day is a Saturday Afternoon activity at Pilgrimage 2022. This activity requires registration.

Camp Fun Day will take place on the main lawn at NC Wesleyan between the Gateway Technology Center and the football field. NC Wesleyan is a short, 15-minute drive from the Rocky Mount Event Center. Parking is available adjacent to Petteway Hall, as well as next to the football field.

In the chance that there is inclement weather, Camp Fun Day will take place in the Dunn Center at NC Wesleyan. If there is inclement weather, group leaders will be informed via email, as well as via announcement during the Saturday Morning session.

Regarding physical accessibility at Camp Fun Day: the area and ground in which Camp Fun Day is taking place is not fully-level. There is a curb surrounding access to the location of the event. Physical accessibility at Camp Fun Day is not guaranteed due to the location of the event.


The Rocky Mount Event center is fully accessible for all attendees. Those with physical limitations are able to access the event using the exterior/interior ramps and automatic-opening doors. There are also elevators for use so that attendees are able to access both levels at the venue.

Accessible seating is available on the main level at the venue (also called “floor seating”) and on the second level of the venue along the upper concourse.

During general sessions, bright (and sometimes fast moving) lights are used. Additionally, loud music, noises and talking can be expected. The Rocky Mount Event Center offers sensory kits, which can be found at the main information desk.

For additional questions regarding Accessibility at Pilgrimage 2022, please contact

Youth Participation

If a member (or members) of your group are participating as a youth in the event (faith story, creative arts, countdown, etc), you will receive a personal email from the Pilgrimage team prior to the event with additional instructions and information.


If you pre-ordered Pilgrimage t-shirts, these t-shirts are available for pickup on the second level of the Rocky Mount Event Center at the YSF table. Follow signs for “Exhibitors.” We ask that one group leader picks up the order for their entire group as each order is packaged together.

COVID-19 Protocols

You can read the Pilgrimage 2022 COVID-19 protocols at this link.

Insight to Youth Stories

During each general session, youth share their faith story. So that group leaders are prepared to mentor youth attendees in their group, you can find a debrief of each of the faith stories that will be shared at this link.


Group leaders can access a weekly devotional guide for the Pilgrimage 2022 weekend at this link.

Exhibitors and Advertisers

NCC Pilgrimage partners with other faith-based organizations and ministries. These organizations and ministries are provided with the option to create advertising content that is shared with attendees. Additionally, some of these organizations and ministries are exhibiting at Pilgrimage 2022.

Exhibitors at Pilgrimage 2022 can be found on the upper level of the Rocky Mount Event Center.

Communicating with Pilgrimage During the Weekend

NCC Pilgrimage is committed to open and actionable communication for group leaders prior to and during the Pilgrimage 2022 weekend. NCC Pilgrimage staff are accessible in the main lobby of the Rocky Mount Event Center when the venue is accessible to attendees. Additionally, you can contact NCC Pilgrimage staff by emailing or texting (919) 808-1806. The email address is monitored throughout the year. The phone number is monitored from November 6, 2022 through November 14, 2022.

Other Details

Get excited for the Pilgrimage House Band live music at Pilgrimage 2022 by listening to a Spotify playlist here.