Jacob Lancaster, Andria Williamson and Katharina Poppinger visit Open Door Ministries in High Point.
HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 31, 2017 – Several High Point University students recently took part in the Fall Pilgrimage – a week of programming intersecting spirituality and service that allowed students to explore different communities of faith and faith-based organizations around the Triad.
The seven-day journey served as a way to help students reignite their faith and the importance of service in the community. It concluded with a “Love Feast” in the Hayworth Fellowship Hall on HPU’s campus, where students gathered to break bread with members of the religious community and community outreach programs in the Triad.
Led by the Rev. Preston Davis, minister to the university, and the Rev. Andria Williamson, manager of chapel programs, students had the opportunity to learn from and work with many different faith communities and faith-based organizations around High Point, Greensboro and Winston-Salem – such as contemporary, multiracial and traditional churches, as well as Open Door Ministries, Communities Against Violence, Peace Haven Farms, Greensboro Urban Ministries, and the International Civil Rights Museum.
“Our goal with this pilgrimage was for our students to be able to experience different faith communities and faith-based organizations – both seeing how their faith inspires life and how faith leads to action,” Davis explains. “This journey was meant to help students get a wide view of how faith animates life and how life animates faith. Particularly, they experienced how the Gospel calls people to be in solidarity with those who so often are pushed out of sight and mind.”
Throughout the week, students focused on different issues each day, including race relations, food hardship, economic inequality, community action against violence, and how faith relates to these topics.
Students like Jacob Lancaster, a sophomore religion major from Albemarle, North Carolina, were moved by the experience.
“The pilgrimage was a way of praying with our feet as we discovered the ways God is moving the world, and the ways people are putting faith into action,” Lancaster says, who was inspired to take part in the pilgrimage after participating in a similar event in New York last year. “I was excited to have the opportunity to go on another pilgrimage and interested in being able to explore how faith is put into action in our own backyard.”
The experience of taking this pilgrimage – even locally – helps to offer a new educational lens, Williamson adds.
“This pilgrimage, coupled with texts like ‘School of Pilgrim: An Alternative Path to Christian Growth’ and ‘The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seekers Guide to Making Travel Sacred’ have helped the students center themselves into the language and spirit of the pilgrim,” Williamson says. “The pilgrimage is education.”
Lancaster adds that the experience helped the group grow spiritually. “One of the most important aspects of this pilgrimage was the community we built together as pilgrims,” he says. “We worked and laughed together; we had deep conversations, and I think it was also great to be able to sit peacefully together when we visited Old Salem and Peace Haven Farms.”