Quaker Youth Pilgrimage - by Emily Olund

 

2010 QYP Group

This summer myself along with 27 other youth and 4 adults traveled the Pacific Northwest in the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage. We came together from all around the world: California, Netherlands, Canada, Ireland, New York and Sweden just to name a few. With so many people with their different beliefs we were challenged throughout our trip to find what makes each one of us a Quaker.

 

During our first week together we stayed in a rustic camp called Quaker Cove. We took this time to get to know one another and become friends. In only a few days we all knew everyone’s names, where they were from and how good they were at ultimate frisbee. We also set up a functioning community through establishing a working agreement in multiple Meetings for Business and formed committees to help our community grow.

 

For the second week of our trip we headed back south to Seattle. We made our home at North Seattle Friend’s Church, the girls sleeping in the library and the boys in the basement. While we stayed there we were able to begin the spiritual aspect of our pilgrimage. A Bible Exploration was added to our daily routine to understand how early Friends based their beliefs off the Bible’s teachings. We also had our first encounter with a programmed meeting together. Our group was a poor representation of Quakers around the world, only one youth and one adult coming from an Evangelical Friends background. The rest of us were all unprogrammed. Our Ministry and Worship Committee set up a schedule for our programmed Meeting for Worship involving as many of us as possible. I ended up getting chosen to give the sermon, something I had never thought I would never do in my life. It was a good learning experience for all of us.

 

As we moved on to Oregon in a yellow school bus named Obadiah we continued to learn more about Quakerism and ourselves. We were able to visit a variety of meetings in the area. There was a stop at Freedom Friends Church in Salem. They were a unique meeting in wishing to remain an Evangelical, but also wanting to be inclusive to gays and other people who felt unwelcome in Northwest Yearly Meeting. We also attended Worship at Reedwood Friend’s Church in Portland one Sunday. It was interesting attending the programmed meetings and seeing all the diversity in Quakerism. One day we even made a stop in a small town on the coast named Tillamook. It was the home of the Tillamook Cheese Factory. All the cow pictures and dairy products made me feel at home, but the cheese definitely didn’t taste as good as it does in Wisconsin.

 

In our last days together we traveled back up to Washington and stayed in Anderson Lodge and looked back on all our experiences. Everywhere we went we were received with warmth and care. The people we met were eager to ask us our stories and tell us theirs. Through this it was easy to see that every one of those people held the Light and wished to show us that. Now we are all back home hoping that we can bring the care we were showed to everyone around us, and busy planning our reunion for the near future.