The Diocese of Olympia‘s Youth Creation Care Pilgrimages combine outdoor exploration, care for the environment, connection with others, and spiritual growth.
In normal years, teen pilgrims spend a week exploring nature and faith, stopping at Episcopal churches along the way and learning from people and organizations working every day to reverse the effects of climate change. We learn to care for God’s creation from guest speakers and with trips to beach and river restoration projects. We also hike old growth forests, take special boating trips, spend time with arts and crafts, bond in small groups, and end each evening with a youth-led worship service, created in collaboration with our music and liturgy leadership team.
Because of the pandemic, the Office of the Bishop had to cancel this year’s Youth Creation Care Pilgrimage, but in its place we invited everyone to make their own personal pilgrimage.
Over the summer we featured Episcopalians in the Diocese of Olympia who explored the beauty of western Washington on local trails, from mountain vistas, and in their backyards. Many thanks to these writers (pictured) for helping us redefine the idea of “pilgrimage” and for pointing out that God is everywhere: profound, accessible, and companionable.
We remain hopeful that next year’s Youth Creation Care Pilgrimage into the San Juan Islands will be fully realized. Save the dates: August 1–7, 2021!
In 2019, we took in the beauty of God’s creation on our first-ever youth pilgrimage across the Olympic Peninsula. Teen pilgrims started at Saint Mark’s Cathedral and headed west, hiking in the mornings; enjoying field-trips, kayaking, and other activities in the afternoon. We spent each night at different “waystations”—churches along our route that offered to provide hospitality—where we participated in group discussions, team-building activities, games, art, and music. Along the way, we heard inspirational stories about what teens and adults are doing to stem climate change.
In 2021, we will we island-hop in the beautiful and rugged San Juans. Our teen pilgrims will start in Seattle at Saint Mark’s Cathedral for a blessing and then ferry out to the islands, spending the night on each of the major islands . The emphasis throughout the week will be on a message of hope: that even in the face of climate change there is much that can be done to reverse its effects. Each one of us has the power to make a difference and our faith calls us to play an active role in this restoration. The journey will culminate with a memorable Eucharist service on the beach at sunset.