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Pastor's Letter, October 5, 2022

Dear Westminster Community,

Back in 2019—if anyone among us can clearly remember that “before” time—this church applied for a grant through

the Presbytery of Olympia to cultivate a culture of compassion. Since we received that grant, we’ve made great strides—with a compassion-focused sermon series, several classes and workshops, a new logo, and a (feathered!) community art project. Arguably, our fledgling mental health ministry grew out of that same commitment. Our purpose was never to supplant the existing culture at WPC, but to build on it; Westminster’s warmth and welcome have been part of its DNA for years and years.

One of the most exciting elements of our grant proposal was an intergenerational trip we would undertake to grow in experiential knowledge of some important issue and to grow in relationship with one another, especially across soft boundaries like “age” that we might not otherwise fully cross. This intergenerational trip is taking shape as a civil rights pilgrimage next summer, tentatively from June 27 through July 3.

Later this fall, we’ll begin taking sign-ups as an expression of serious interest. We anticipate the total cost of participation will be in the ballpark of $2,000 per person. This may be insurmountable for some, especially those families with more than one person hoping to participate. For this reason, we will have some scholarship funds available. Our youth and young adult participants will have access to additional scholarship funds, with the potential for fully-subsidized participation.

You might wonder: What will this trip look like? We’re working with a group called Progressive Pilgrimages, founded and run by a married couple, Eric and Heather Doss. This organization has run trips like ours—alongside many others—for many years. You can review our planned itinerary and some FAQs about the trip on the adjacent/following page.

In the months leading up to this trip, participants would gather several times and begin laying the foundations for the intergroup relationships that would, in large part, be the fruit of the entire endeavor. The content of this trip is well-planned and meaningful—but the journey we’ll undertake would not be worth the effort were it not for the mutual knowledge to emerge around this shared learning opportunity. Your experience and insights will enrich and amplify the experiences of others; this is the gift of community!

I invite you to prayerfully consider joining this trip next summer! If something is holding you back from joining—resources or otherwise—and you’re open to talking about it, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you.

More Information

Tentative dates:

June 27 (Tuesday) through July 3 (Monday), 2023

Where will we go?

Tuesday, Day One: Travel to Atlanta, GA, direct to the hotel. Overnight in Atlanta.

Wednesday, Day Two: Atlanta: King Center and Memorial, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta Walking Tour. Overnight in Atlanta.

Thursday, Day Three: Travel to Birmingham, AL, Civil Rights Institute/16th Street Baptist, Kelly Ingram Park/ Walking tour. Overnight Birmingham.

Friday, Day Four: Bus tour of Birmingham/Bombingham, depart for Montgomery, AL. Overnight Montgomery.

Saturday, Day Five: EJI Museum and Memorial, Tour of Montgomery with Wanda Battle. Overnight Montgomery.

Sunday, Day Six: Travel to Selma, AL, Worship, Meet with Ron and Gwen, Civil Rights activists, Edmund Pettus Bridge Prayer Walk. Overnight Montgomery.

Monday, Day Seven: Montgomery to Atlanta, Flight to Seattle.

Who is this for?

This trip is for ages 10+. Some of the content will be heavy, and the days might feel long for a “young” ten-year-old. Our travel plans also include mobility support for those who require it; talk to Pastor Therin if you’re unsure of whether you could comfortably travel with us.

Why don’t we do a book study together instead?

Westminster has done—and will surely do—wonderful book studies on this topic, as well as other justice-related topics. There is nonetheless something powerful and potentially transformative about traveling to the sites where some of this history unfolded and experiencing those spaces firsthand. We will also meet “local historians” for whom this history is a personal life story. Finally, there is a depth of relationship that cannot develop until you’ve spent considerable, consecutive time together.

How much will it cost to participate?

We’re estimating costs at about $3,300 per person. We know this is expensive—and there will be scholarships available. For youth (10-17) and young adults (17-40), there is designated support funding available, up to fully-subsidized participation. I’d like to come, but I have small kids. As another parent of small children, I understand that a weeklong trip is a special challenge. Perhaps there is a grandparent or other relative who’d cherish this time with your kids. If not, please reach out to me (Pastor Therin) so we can brainstorm what other creative solutions might exist before we rule out your participation entirely!

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