Pilgrimages help to give us a greater appreciation for the joys and blessings that surround us; they help us to obtain a clearer perspective on the meaning of life. In rediscovering our relationship with Jesus, we gain a better focus on our life’s purpose, our faith becomes refreshed and as stewards, we become re-energized in our mission to spread the Gospel.
-Kate Brigham, Vestry Member
For thousands of years, people all over the world have been making pilgrimages for a cornucopia of reasons, each uniquely different. A pilgrimage is much more than traveling to a place as a tourist. From the ancient pre-Roman days to the 20th Century, in the Christian Faith it is an opportunity to take a journey to a sacred place; to be connected with the Spirit and become inspired and transformed during the process. Often, people go when they are at a turning point in their lives, in a period of discernment and seeking direction, in search for deeper spiritual growth or simply to feel closer to God.
In the late Spring of this year, a group of 16 people traveled to the beautiful country of Greece for a two week pilgrimage. They journeyed through and explored scores of incredible places: Athens, Delphi, Meteora, Berea, Thessaloniki, Phillippi, Mt. Athos, Corinth and to the island of Patmos. The sites that were visited are too numerous to list, but some of these special places included the spot in Phillippi where they believe Paul was imprisoned, the bema at Corinth where Paul spoke, the cave where it’s believed that John wrote Revelation, Mars Hill (there’s a stone from there on the pulpit in our nave) and the unforgettable Parthenon.
In addition to visiting sites shrouded in wonder and mystery, the process of a pilgrimage often consists of a special group dynamic with fellow pilgrims; meeting new people, supporting and walking alongside one another on a remarkable journey. This latest Pilgrimage to Greece made by members of St. Paul’s and others was no exception. Some of the highlights in particular include parishioner Campbell Tasker winning a foot race on Crete (wow!), the spiritual guidance and teachings of Fr. Kamal Farah (a Palestinian priest and scholar that some of us know from the Holy Land), stunning scenery, delicious food and a “great group of people that enjoyed themselves and took care of each other”.
St. Paul’s Greece Pilgrimage was organized and led by Laurie Parrish who has become an expert guide in these specialized trips. Being a CPA/tax accountant professionally, the gifts of her skills and attention for detail have been invaluable for planning pilgrimages and leading this ministry.
“Spiritual travel with a group offers opportunities for on-site Bible Study, enhances your faith and knowledge of history, is economical, takes you places you might otherwise not go and is a great way to get to know some of your brothers and sisters in Christ.” - Laurie Parrish
In the 1990s, a member of St. Paul’s organized trips to exhibits to nearby places like Seattle. This Ministry would become known, as it is today, as the St. Paul’s Travel Club. When Laurie came to St. Paul’s in 2000, she participated in many of these outings. Years later, while Fr. Jonathan was teaching a class on the History of the Church of England, a friendly unofficial pact was made between them; she would lead a pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland if Jonathan would become a permanent rector. Soon in 2011, sixteen pilgrims were on their way to the British Isles. Not surprisingly, on their way home they wanted to know where Laurie would take them next! As Christians, it had to be the Holy Land, where they went in 2014. Thereafter, a logical place to visit after following Christ in the Holy Land was to follow St. Paul in Greece this year, 2017. Laurie’s passion for pilgrimages have helped other parishioners to retrace the footsteps of our Saints and others pilgrims who have gone before us.
“I realized that my seeing people’s faces when they visit a holy site that is special to them or talking with them afterward about how they read the Bible and picture it in their mind is very exciting to me. I feel privileged to have this ministry.” -Laurie Parrish
Clearly, pilgrimages help to give us a greater appreciation for the joys and blessings that surround us; they help us to obtain a clearer perspective on the meaning of life. In rediscovering our relationship with Jesus, we gain a better focus on our life’s purpose, our faith becomes refreshed and as stewards, we become re-energized in our mission to spread the Gospel.
“I believe they greatly enhance and can even change one’s life. Following in the footsteps of Christ or a saint have made great impacts upon my faith and life. There’s no substitute for being able to envision the Bible in living color.”
For those interested in making a Pilgrimage with St. Paul’s Travel Club, stay tuned for Turkey or Holy Land May 2019. For more information on St. Paul’s Travel Club, contact Laurie Parrish.
For photos of the recent Greece Pilgrimage, visit the St. Paul's web site. Laurie has extensive travel and volunteer experience in the Holy Land. Later this year, she will be working as a volunteer at Ecce Homo Pilgrim House, a former French Convent, in the historic Old City of Jerusalem. Visit her blog for detailed description and photos of past trips.
Please join us for organized pilgrimages to sacred and special places every three years or so.