Reflections on the Pilgrimage to Washington D.C. Years of dreaming came to reality on October 4-7 when we brought teens who have faithfully served as acolytes for several years to Washington D.C. to attend the National Acolyte Festival in Washington D.C. We hope to take this pilgrimage every other year with our oldest acolytes as a culmination of their years of service. To watch our kids process into the magnificent cathedral, bow at the altar and sit in the front row where presidents have sat brought tears to my eyes; I couldn’t have been prouder of this young followers of Jesus! Below are reflections from the youth and adults who attended what became truly a pilgrimage, not just a regular trip! Each day we met special people who were the face of Jesus and there were many God moments throughout the trip. Thanks to all who helped make this pilgrimage a reality!
From Eirik: When my son, Atle, spoke of his impressions of The National Cathedral on our visit to Washington DC for the Acolyte Festival, he spoke of it being so grand and majestic. But he concluded that it also reminded him of “good old St. Paul’s. I was proud of his assessment because that was how exactly how I felt. My first impressions were that it took my breath away. It is so large and sits on the highest point in DC. When you go through the doors for the first time, I was in awe of the long nave, colorful banners, high ceiling, and beautiful stained glass. But then when you pay attention to the design and decor, the similarities to our church at home come to light. Let me share some of those with you: * The choir pews have somewhat identical stitched cushions to ours in the base section. * The organ looks the same. Same amount of keys, same pipes, even ones that are just decorative. * The choir had twelve voices that filled the entire space and they stood behind the altar, as we do. * The chancel, where the choir sits, is in the same spot, only longer and the woodwork was stained darker. * The carved ornate woodwork at the pulpit and chancel could have been done by the same artist that did our altar and pulpit. It was strikingly similar. * The large rose stained glass in the rear of the church looks like ours and the stained glass on the sides depict scenes from the Bible, just as ours do. * The columns bordering the nave are arched and made of the same cement material. They just lack the stains from water and wind blowing off Lake Superior. * The side view where we sat to view the service is the same proximity to wear I sit in the bass section of the choir at home. I had the same vantage point listening to the sermon with a beautiful stained glass backdrop just as I do with Reverend Bill on Sundays. * There is a changing room for the vergers and priests off to the side just as we have one for the choir and deacons. * The Cathedral had many, many unique chapels throughout the building, including a miniature chapel for children. I was impressed. But then I realized that we have the Small Chapel, Olcott Room, Ryan Room, Hartley Sisters Room, and offices. The one thing I could not find (and may have missed) was a children’s room, a nursery, classrooms, children’s and adult libraries, a stage and kitchen. A Parish Hall! But there was one obvious thing missing that this grand building did not have: You. Us. This congregation that I know and love and worship with. The people I sing with and chat with on Sundays or the friends I see throughout this town in my daily life. The National Cathedral had physical similarities on a grander scale to our, as Atle put it, “good old St. Paul’s”. But it didn’t have you.
From Atle: I learned about civil rights and equality during my time in DC. Firstly seeing the National Cathedral was amazing it was so grand and detailed down to the last inch with beautiful stand glass windows and a huge amount of unique Gargoyles, something that doesn't happen very often with modern day buildings. It also reminded me a lot of our good old St. Paul's in how it was designed. Just in a lot bigger scale. The justice walk that we went on through the different monuments put the progress to a more equal society we have achieved and what needs to be done in prospective. I really liked how at the MLK memorial the bottom part of the statue was unfinished signifying the fact that we have made progress but that we aren't finished yet and have a lot more work to finish. That motivates me and I'm sure other people to achieve a equal society where all races and genders are equal. Another memorable experience is that well I was walking though the African American Smithsonian Museum I noticed a picture that I recognized, it was the picture taken after the Duluth lynchings, It was hung prominently on the all next bigger than the pictures of other lynchings around it. it really brought things home for me as I had been where that picture was taken and learned about the Duluth Lynching prior to being there and didn't realize that it would be so front and center in a national museum. I am immensely proud of our city and love living here and it humbles me that our city could have been responsible for such an act when it's not the type of thing usually associated with our small city. I'm sure I will remember the people I met, the things I saw, the people that I was with, and Rigby the racoon who we saw and named in DC.
From Luisa: The Washington DC trio is one I will remember forever. From the second we got off the plane there was so much energy and everyone was so excited to just be there in community. We were able to tour the Capitol the first day and many of the Smithsonian Museums; my favorite definitely being the Library of Congress. My favorite part was the social justice walk/tour of the monuments we did. I got to explore DC with some amazing young people while thinking about the work we’ve done and the work we are doing now in building the beloved community. I also loved the African American museum; it was a time for deep reflection and I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to go and experience what I wish everyone could! Ending with the Acolyte festival was amazing. There was so much energy and life in the air you could just feel the buzz. The Cathedral was amazing!! I’m so grateful I was able to go on this trip, truly a once in a lifetime trip.
From JR: Thanks for the support and generous donations to make the DC trip a possibility for those of us that went. My favorite part of the trip to DC was going to the Air and Space museum and the African history museum. At the African History museum it was really interesting and the most interesting was that the lynching memorial from our city Duluth was there on the wall. The National Cathedral was super big! It had many beautiful works of glass art work pieces. My favorite piece of work was the space stained glass window that had a real piece of the moon in it.
From Hannah: The Acolyte trip to Washington DC was an amazing once in a life time experience. Luisa, Angelina, Sue Erik and I were taking one of the buses to the different memorials and the bus driver named Howard let 3 people onto the bus because they lost their car so he said, “tell me when things look familiar and I will stop and let you off the bus,” and when they found their car they got off the bus and everyone clapped on the bus. And Howard spoke about how this was his passion in life to help people. This was something that was really cool to see because I don't see it happen often here were we live and it was just one God moment that we experienced throughout the trip. On Saturday it was really cool because it was the festival day and it was such an amazing experience because I didn't realize how big the cathedral was until I walked inside. It was so cool to see all the different banners that churches had and their crosses, torches, and a Thurible which is something that I have never seen before.. All in all I thought that this trip was so cool and was such an amazing experience! ___________________________________________________________________________________ From Angelina: Traveling to the capital of America isn’t something most people get to do often, me included. So when I was given the opportunity to do so with my church, I was more than eager to go. I was there for four days, but it felt like so much longer with all of the exciting things we packed into each day. Though everything in Washington DC was amazing, one thing that really instilled a sense of awe within me was the Washington National Cathedral. On the third day of our trip, we visited the cathedral to attend the annual national acolyte festival. I had never seen a church or building so large, intricate, and beautiful before. Both the inside and outside were incredible. Sitting in the front row seats (thank you, Sue!) only added to the already tremendous experience. It felt amazing to be part of something so large with people from so many different places. Another powerful experience I had also took place on Saturday, the third day of our trip. After eating out at Cactus Cantina, our group went on a night justice walk and viewed some of Washington’s many monuments. We talked about justice, what these monuments meant at the time they were built, what they mean today, and how we can interpret and use the message they leave. I could continue to write about my trip for pages, but I’ll sum it up and say it was an amazing experience which I am so thankful for, and will remember it for the rest of my life.
Episcopal Youth Event -- held every three years
Emily and Luisa represented our parish and the Episcopal Church in Minnesota at the National Episcopal Youth Event in Oklahoma July 10-14, 2017.
EYE was the best week of my life. In 15 years I have never experienced something so powerful. I have never been a part of such a big community. It was an eye opening experience for me. As soon as I arrived at the airport I felt it; the feeling of belonging. Once we arrived on the campus in Oklahoma City I was greeted with open hands and hearts. Emily and I were the first from our diocese to arrive so we got settled in and then we got to explore the campus. If you know me, you know that I never hesitate to meet someone new! EYE brought that out in me even more than normal. It was amazing to be surrounded by people who were all there for the same reason, all connected by faith. I wanted to meet as many new people as possible and I got that chance! Over the 5 days there I got to attend Praxis Sessions; which are workshops lead by priests, youth ministers, Presiding Bishop Curry, and many more. We also went to evening Plenary’s where we sang and prayed as one, as the Episcopal Church. There was also a Eucharist at the beginning and end of the week. I was so fortunate that I got to go and I’m so thankful to all of those that contributed to our trip! EYE was the start of my life as a young adult in the church and I hope to continue work in our church as long as I can as well as in the national church! I will be going to General Convention next summer in Austin, Texas and ECMN’s convention in Duluth this September. EYE was the best week of my life, and now I am working to bring it home with me. Submitted by Luisa ___________________________________________________ The 2017 Episcopal Youth Event will be a week I never forget. I made awesome friends, sang some fabulous songs, and created endless memories. But what I won't forget sitting in a college auditorium hearing our presiding bishop, Michael Curry, talk about the Jesus Movement. I won't forget this moment because it was the time when I discovered why I’m an Episcopalian. Because even though I'm sitting in a two hour praxis hearing a speech about the Jesus Movement, we are talking about civil rights, women rights, refugees, homelessness, climate change, the importance of the LGBTQ+ community, and so much more.
To loosely quote Bishop Curry “We [Episcopalians] don't read in between the lines of the bible. We don't worry about how this one action at this one time was documented, but the morale of the story. To figure out what Jesus and God wanted us to do with this reading- to bring out the learnings to the world and create peace.”
The Jesus Movement and the Episcopal mission statement isn't just about educating congregations on the readings, but how we use them to strive for peace and equality everywhere and within everyone. That's why everyone is welcome at god's table. That's why I’m so thankful that I'm an Episcopalian.
Thank you, St. Paul's for supporting my journey to the Episcopal Youth Event, it has been life changing. I cannot wait to bring back what I learned to help other youth within the congregation! Submitted by Emily