Photo credits: Alina Dennis
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” – Maya Angelou, ‘On the Pulse of Morning’
The Legacy Museum, and other sites we visited during our week-long journey, presented us with a multitude of wrenching truths about this country’s history of racism and racial injustice.
Our group of youth and adults, traveling from Grace Cathedral, were called repeatedly to engage with this history and its modern legacy, to try to comprehend images of lynchings, footage of mobs attacking students at lunch counters, modern day photos of incarcerated children too small to fit into the prison jumpsuits swaddled about them like blankets.
Our youth group, on every occasion, responded to the challenge of facing history with the courage Maya Angelou calls on us all to summon. They sat quietly and listened when the moment required them simply to listen, to hear the truths of others. Other times they asked question after question, undaunted in their desire to understand, to know what they could do to stop such histories being lived again. Their courage and determination gave their adult chaperones the courage to keep going, to continue through this troubled history that defines our present.
We sensed we were not alone in this journey. Many guides and angels welcomed us. These guides pointed to the great courage of those who fought against near impossible odds to change the lives of others, from the enslaved people who built the First African Baptist Church in Savannah at nighttime to the many heroes of the Civil Rights Movement immortalized in the mural at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.
We found ourselves in constant communion with the souls and saints who changed the world. And everywhere, everything we saw pointed us to God, through whom all things are possible, and all wrongs, eventually, righted.
Our youth group made many friends and had many guardians and advocates. Special thanks must be given to our remarkable adult chaperones, Grace Cathedral staff members Alina Dennis and Dan Chiapelone. Their witness, courage and care profoundly shaped our journey and the outlook of our youth.
Our youth group shared this journey with each other. They sang and prayed together, laughed in joyful moments, and sat close together in the times when history presented them with a particularly wrenching truth, posed a question about humanity that only the Spirit can answer. They served as great ambassadors to our cathedral and to their generation.
I saw, to my great joy, how our young people’s constancy, grace and openness had such an effect on many that we met. Last Sunday, we had the opportunity to worship at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Savannah.
Each member of our youth group served in some capacity during the service.
The clergy and many congregants shared afterwards with us how moved they had been to worship with our youth group. I am so grateful to the Rev. David Wantland and Ministry Coordinator for Children and Families Betsey Bass for welcoming us.
I am overjoyed to share with you that the youth group of Grace Cathedral has fulfilled the commission given to them, undertaking this pilgrimage with grace, compassion, and courage. I know they would be delighted to share with you their experiences and reflections, and I invite you to speak with them when you see them! We also look forward to sharing further images and footage at Congregation Sunday on September 10, following the 11 am Choral Eucharist.
We are already planning our next pilgrimage, which will take place from July 9 to 16, 2024. We’d love to make this journey with pilgrims and chaperones from fellow youth groups! If you’d like more information, I’d love to hear from you: my email is email@example.com.
Formation Programs Manager for Children, Youth, Families, and Adults