A pilgrimage is, technically, a (long) trip to a sacred place. While I’m sure there are folks who would call South Africa itself sacred, I’m not aware of many who see Cape Town or Johannesburg as holy sites per se.
For me, this is a pilgrimage because I choose to approach it that way. I’m thinking of pilgrimage as a journey seeking God’s presence and activity in another place and people; underneath this perspective is the assumption that God is to be found among every people and in every place.
This is a study tour; we’ll spend a lot of time listening to spiritual leaders sharing their experience and perspective, and we’ll visit some interesting sites. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see the southern tip of Africa, to visit world-famous sites like Robben Island, to worship with communities very different from my own in some ways and yet part of the same family. I’m especially drawn by the chance to engage a recent story of a large-scale social justice movement, of major societal transformation, as narrated by those who participated in it and led it. My perspective of the purpose of the church and my sense of the role of pastor and my own calling in particular were all deeply impacted by South African clergyperson Peter Storey, and to have the opportunity now to experience these places and people firsthand is a gift for which I’m incredibly grateful.
I know that God has much in store for my colleagues and I, and I can’t wait for the journey–this pilgrimage to meet God over 10,000 miles away.