The Only Thing Missing Was YOU!

November 7, 2019
The Rev. Canon Michelle I. Walker, Associate Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

All pilgrims agree: The only thing missing from our UTO Pilgrims on the Camino pilgrimage this October was YOU! From the moment the 35 of us initially met until our nearly tearful departure as friends on the last day, this was a blessed group of pilgrims – each having had her or his own Camino experience.

  • You would have loved to have joined us as we worshipped together in the beautiful Redeemer Cathedral in Madrid, when Bishop Carlos Lopéz Lozano shared his deep appreciation for the Diocese of Northern Indiana’s assistance in consecrating a bishop for the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church in the 1950s, as well as his immeasurable gratitude to the United Thank Offering for the many grants that have helped sustain the Church in Spain.
  • You would have been amazed to have visited the breathtaking walled city of Ávila, home to St. Teresa of Ávila, and its opulent cathedral. From wandering around the city to scaling the tops of the walls for that perfect picture on a beautiful sunny day, you would have loved it.
  • You would have been thrilled to have started the exciting and intimidating first day of walking with the walking pilgrims. Each day, Bishop Doug Sparks of Northern Indiana led us in a “Prayer and a Picture” – inviting Christ to be present with us on this amazing adventure and pausing to capture the beauty surrounding us. The sights, sounds, smells, and experiences along the Camino are nearly indescribable in their uniqueness and fullness of the Holy Spirit.
  • You would have loved to have toured UTO Grant sites with Bishop Carlos, learning about the rich Spanish history alongside the persevering spirit of the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church, whose members continued worshipping despite persecution during the reign of Franco and little financial support outside of granting organizations like UTO. You might have been brought to tears at the faithfulness and tenacity of this precious Spanish Church.
  • You would have savored the delicious and fresh Spanish food, which seemed to continually surprise, delight, and fill each of us – even if you thought you’d never eat octopus and unexpectedly discovered it can be truly delicious!
  • You would have truly loved welcoming the last, exhausted, aching, dedicated walkers as they took their final steps to meet the rest of the group in Santiago de Compostela. Many of us shed tears of joy, accomplishment, and relief. You wouldn’t have wanted to miss that celebratory reunion.

For those of us that were there, we’ve been sustained in the days after the pilgrimage by messaging each other, sharing our stories and reflections, and enjoying each other’s pictures. The good work done by the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church has enlivened our hearts. We deeply desire to continue to support the Church. The unfolding of this pilgrim experience continues to nourish us spiritually. We want to share this with you in more than just articles and pictures (although we have lots of them). We want this Church, and this Camino, to welcome future generations of pilgrims – both Christ believers and Christ seekers. This can only happen through continued support.

As you may know, this pilgrimage was established for, and is accompanied by, a UTO Camino Challenge grant that will match every dollar up to $60,000 toward the establishment of an Anglican Centre in Santiago de Compostela. We saw the building identified as the welcome center for all Christians. We heard of the plans for inclusive worship and hospitality. We see the dream and are each doing our part to make it a reality. You can help too! From now until the end of the year, UTO is welcoming UTO Camino Challenge grant contributions, which we hope will provide at least $120,000 toward the large cost of realizing an Anglican Centre in Santiago. Santiago needs an Anglican Centre. Everyone deserves inclusive worship and reception of Holy Communion at the end of a spiritual journey like this. For this we have come! To learn more about this project, please visit the UTO website or the Friends of the Anglican Centre website, or contact Michelle Walker. To contribute now, visit here. Please contribute and help us make this dream a reality.

And as they say on the trail, buen camino, or good journey to you. You would have loved it! The only thing missing was you! Until next time…