Discerning Your Mission Experience or Pilgrimage Site
You know you are called to a Mission Experience or Pilgrimage….but where?
Knowing where to serve can be one of the most daunting aspects of planning. Either the scope of the mission field can feel overwhelming or the finding the right location can seem impossible.
To begin to determine a location, gather your adult and youth leaders to discuss possibilities. In preparation, ask them to read the article, Social Action Projects: A More Excellent Way. Carefully consider each of the criteria suggested in this article as you narrow down possible mission or pilgrimage sites.
Throughout the process, pray together that the Holy Spirit guide your conversation as you begin identifying possibilities, considering:
- Regions that have been topics of conversation with your group in the past,
- Issues that are on the hearts of members of your faith community,
- Relationships with congregations or communities that already exist either for your community or diocese or for other area Episcopal churches, and
- Areas recently impacted by weather-related or other types of disasters.
Your group’s maturity level and capacity for travel as well as budgetary and fundraising criteria should be a part of this consideration.
This is the time to be realistic about possibilities and not get hung up on a romantic idea of traveling across the globe. Powerful mission experiences and pilgrimages are available in your own community.
If you would like to seek outside assistance, there are any number of organizations designed to assist you in planning a mission experience or pilgrimage. Ask trusted area youth ministers what organizations they have utilized or do a Google search. These organizations have websites laying out all of the possibilities.
Please note, however, that most mission trip planners are based in denominations outside the Episcopal tradition, often requiring a good deal of translation in theology and worship to adapt the experience to your group norms. Additionally, remember that choosing a one-time mission experience certainly doesn’t meet the important component of building a project based on a long-term relationship between communities.
However, because of its worldwide nature, the mission field of The Episcopal Church is expansive and the wider church and many dioceses and local faith communities maintain connections and locations that welcome youth and adult missionaries every year – in fact they plan on the assistance and support these groups provide.
Inspiring Mission, www.InspiringMission.com, is an organization recently formed with support of the Office of Youth Ministries to start building a church-wide list of possible mission sites with existing connections within The Episcopal Church. Each listing will include the amenities of each site, type of work or location offered, and all contact information. Please note that Inspiring Mission is just getting started and their listings are in the early stages. Contact them if you know of a site that should be included. Their site submission criteria and application is on their website.
Above all things, as you discern a mission site, trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you on your journey and that you will find the mission site or pilgrimage to which your group is called.
This Mission Monday post is another excerpt from the forthcoming Episcopal Youth in Mission Manual, which will be published sometime this spring.