A long-standing tradition of Pilgrimage is the Sunday morning banner procession. Each church is encouraged to create a banner that will be proudly carried throughout the coliseum by two youth representatives. Each banner is unique, designed by the youth from each church, showcasing the best of what makes Pilgrimage so strong, everyone coming together from across the state to worship God just as we are.
Yesterday, 37,000 meals with packaged for Rise Against Hunger. With four sessions of packaging and 891 participants helping, this outstanding total will help feed people around the world and work toward the goal of ending world hunger by 2030. This is just one representation of how people here at Pilgrimage are reaching out to make a difference in the community around them.
This year, each church was challenged to pledge how they were going to commit to serving others and those in need of hurricane relief after they were to “Go” and leave this place. The index cards with the pledges were placed at the altar throughout worship, offering these commitments up to God in front of the body of Pilgrimage.
Continuing the theme of service, St. Luke UMC offered a testimony about the mission trip they attended with SOME (So Others Might Eat), McKenna’s Wagon, DC Central Kitchen, Capital Hill UMC and Martha’s Market/Table in Washington, DC this summer. Sixteen participants spoke and told us about the responsibilities they had for the week, the wonderful people they encountered and how God was present throughout their week. These personal accounts they shared painted a picture of their week. They took the time not only to serve people but sit down and get to know them and their stories. They shared stories, meals, and prayers throughout the week.
Jay Locklear and the House Band continued sharing their musical talents with us and began worship with joyful song. A Covenant Prayer, which was written by John Wesley was converted into a song by Jay Locklear and Adam Seate several years back. This song has now become a staple at Conference Youth Events.
An offering was taken up to benefit YSF (Youth Service Fund). YSF works to take “Money raised by youth, for youth, to benefit youth.” YSF designs apparel through the year that they sell to continue to raise money. The Conference Youth Treasurer and the YSF Taskforce provide grants to churches within the conference and organizations that work throughout the world to form programs or events which help increase the quality of life of youth and bring youth closer to God. It also provides scholarships, so that youth can participate in Conference Youth Events throughout the year.
Gabby, a senior this year, shared her testimony with us. She is dreaming of becoming a missionary and was encouraged by her youth pastor to chase that dream. She received mixed responses when she started to tell others her dreams and her plans to take a gap year before her first year of College. Gabby knows God’s plan for her is to serve others and she felt at peace with her choice. She encouraged all of us to get involved with missions, volunteer work, and our local churches. She advised us not to be fearful because God has a plan for every one of us. She ended her testimony with words of encouragement and advised all of us to follow our passions and let them fuel us.
Another Pilgrimage tradition that takes place on Sunday morning is Communion. Approximately 3,800 youth and adults were served the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We break bread together, and we are reminded that we are forgiven for our sins. Sharing Communion with thousands of others is an incredible experience. There is music, prayer, and a time to reflect.
As Pilgrimage 2018 comes to an end, we are encouraged to go home to our churches and communities and share what we have learned. We were blessed to share a wonderful weekend full of song, prayer, service, and love. We are ready to journey back to our homes and return to our daily lives. We take the lessons home we are learned this weekend and feel excited to spread God’s glory.
*Article written by Katherine Riley and Laura Shachtman