Episode 26: 2019 Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens is bishop suffragan for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT). Laura is a graduate of Princeton University and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, and has a D.Min. from Hartford Seminary. She was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in Massachusetts and served two parishes in Massachusetts before being called to Saint Luke’s, Darien and later to St. James’, Danbury. She was elected as bishop suffragan in 2007 and consecrated later that year. Laura has been to the Holy Land twice, and is a co-leader for the upcoming 2019 pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The Rev. Harrison West, rector of Christ Church in Guilford. A native of Oregon, he received in BA from Carleton College in Minnesota, and studied architectural history at the University of Oregon, and earned his M.Div. from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee and after his ordination served parishes in Maryland, Oregon, and Tennessee before taking the position in Guilford in 2010. Harrison has taken one trip to the Holy Land so far, over New Year’s in 2013, and it snowed that year.

Our primary focal point for this episode was the upcoming ECCT pilgrimage, June 9-19, 2019, with an optional three-day extension. (Check out the previous episode, #25, interviews with John Lent and Heidi Shott of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem).

We talked about where the idea for the pilgrimage came from (learn about the “Holy Landers” group), and how going on a pilgrimage is different from going as a tourist. On a pilgrimage you really enter the geography and connect with the people, Harrison explained. Laura added that as a pilgrim, you also create space for prayer. The on-site pilgrimage leader, Canon Iyad Qumri, a lay canon of the Cathedral in Jerusalem, creates special opportunities for prayer, connected with specific events described in the Scriptures.

They talked about the itineraryand about preparations (practical and spiritual). Once the group is finalized, the pilgrims will gather several times in the upcoming months to get to know one another better and study and prepare together.

The pilgrimage will include visits to parishes, Episcopal institutions, and opportunities to meet Anglican/Episcopal leaders there.

Harrison and Laura each shared what it was about the Holy Land that drew them back: being where Jesus lived topped the list. Both talked about how their earlier pilgrimages had changed their prayer lives, making them richer.

The pilgrimage group, which will be shepherded by a licensed, experienced guide, will see the places and hear about the people connected with Jesus’ time; they will also see and experience life there now. Laura talked about how it was important “to be praying for all the people that live there, and working with people to explore a hope-filled future.”

We ended with reminders about where to find more information including a video, and get a registration form, available here: https://www.episcopalct.org/holyland2019/

They’re looking for a commitment and a deposit by December 14, 2018.

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