Former Presiding Bishop, the Right Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be joining 15 diocesan teens this summer for a pilgrimage across the Olympic Peninsula. Her unique status as both a faith leader and a scientist (she studied biology at Stanford and has a PhD in Oceanography from Oregon State University) will provide a unique perspective throughout the week, as the journey underscores how faith calls us to protect the planet.
The idea for a “Youth Creation Care Pilgrimage” in the diocese came from the Dean of Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the Very Rev. Steve Thomason. He returned from General Convention energized by what he had learned from the Diocese of Northern California about their Pathways Pilgrimage for youth, which +Katharine had also joined. Bishop Rickel extended an invitation, which was readily accepted. +Katharine grew up in the Pacific Northwest so she is excited about this opportunity to return to her home.
The pilgrimage will take place August 4-10 and will start with a pilgrims’ blessing at Saint Mark’s Cathedral (+Katharine will deliver the homily) and will end on the beach at La Push with an evening Eucharist. In addition to hiking, kayaking, beach and river restoration projects, scavenger hunts and other games, the pilgrims will be practicing “creation care” through beach and river restoration projects. They will spend time on the Elwha River with members of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe that successfully advocated for dam removal and will learn about the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, 3,188 square miles of protected marine waters off the peninsula coastline. Both projects are emblematic of the potential for change, redemption, restoration, and resurrection.
Each night the group will stop at waystations — Episcopal churches that stretch from the Puget Sound, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the Pacific Ocean — including: Grace, Bainbridge; St. Paul, Port Townsend; St. Luke, Sequim; St. Andrew, Port Angeles; and St. Swithin, Forks. Each of these has generously offered food and lodging for the pilgrims.
Finally, the teens will be encouraged to return to their respective churches with a renewed commitment to the environment. They will be equipped to share with their home congregations about their experience and to encourage action to stem climate change.