Youth Leaders Pilgrimage to South Africa

Youth Leaders Pilgrimage to South Africa

by Paula Schaap, Director of Communications, Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

When about a dozen youth and young adults from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California traveled to North Carolina last summer to take part in Lift Every Voice: Freedom Ride, it began a three-year commitment to learn about ways to seek justice and reconciliation at home and abroad.

Many of the same young people made a life-changing trip to South Africa this summer in the second year of their pilgrimage. The South African part of their journey reunited them with Anglicans from Botswana and Cape Town and helped deepen relationships formed in North Carolina, said the Rev. Sarah Quinney, Assistant Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roseville.

Quinney, who accompanied the North Carolina and South African pilgrimages, said one of the wonderful things about the program is that it gives young people from the diocese a sense of connection to other young people who share their faith experience throughout the world. “It gives them a confidence to own their faith,” she said. 

Part of the experience is educational, giving participants a way to experience events like racism or apartheid—in historical perspective and in their present-day aftermath-- with more immediacy than reading or classroom study. For young adults in the diocese, it’s also a way to bring up future leaders for the Church. “It will help encourage, inspire and equip young people to be change makers and be our leaders who seek justice and reconciliation,” said Quinney. 

A telling moment in the South Africa trip was when the young people from Africa shared their experiences of racism and apartheid with each other and the Americans. One young woman said it was the first time she had shared her story. The young people “have created these lasting relationships,” Quinney said. “It’s created a safety and a trust.”

Youth pilgrims and leaders shared their their stories through songs that can be seen in this video clip: 2016 Youth Pilgrims Lift Every Voice in South Africa

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