Our purpose is to share the spirit of pilgrimage that is so commonplace in Newfoundland and reflective of how Jesus taught us to live.

A view of the colourful streets of Gander, Newfoundfound from the perspective of a GC43 Pilgrim.
Credit: Courtesy of Navan Forsythe / GC43 Pilgrims
Published On: July 19, 2018

The GC43 youth pilgrims made their way across Canada this summer, with the goal of visiting every United Church conference, including a stop at the 43rd General Council meeting in Oshawa, ON. Read all the blog posts from their journey and see more pictures on their Facebook page and Instagram feed.

We started this wonderful journey together separately, working in our home Conferences to get a handle on the work our Conference does. When that week was over however, we traveled to Gander, Newfoundland to covenant, get to know each other, and to learn from the wisdom of the place.

I arrived before nearly every other pilgrim, only Thomas (the pilgrim from the All Native Circle Conference) was with me, and I was struck immediately by the spirit kindness and generosity shown by the wonderful people hosting us. This spirit was shown constantly during our time in Newfoundland, by those who fed us, offered us a place to sleep, and shared their wisdom with us.

Shepherd Munikwa showed that spirit when he told us his story of coming to Canada with his family to become a United Church minister in Carmanville, Newfoundland. Claude Elliot also showed that spirit when he recounted the work that he and many of his fellow Newfoundlanders did to ensure that those stranded in Gander as a result of the September 11th terrorist attacks not only were comfortable and safe, but were loved.

As pilgrims, we are working to live into that spirit. When we gathered to create a covenant that ensured everybody is comfortable and that their needs are being met, we lived into that spirit. When we told each other our stories, our hardships and high points, and listened compassionately and supportively, we lived into that spirit.

It is important that we continue to live into this spirit not only during the pilgrimage, where we will be tested by long days and unfamiliar environments, but during every moment for the rest of our lives. By treating others with the respect that they deserve, this spirit, so commonplace in Newfoundland and reflective of how Jesus taught us to live, continues to flourish and spread everywhere we go.

For me at least, that is the purpose of the pilgrimage; not just to learn and to receive the wisdom imparted to us by so many fantastic people in Newfoundland and all over, but to also share this wisdom with all who we meet, with our words and actions.

This is why I hope that you follow our travels in whatever way you can: by reading this blog, following on Instagram and Facebook, following our personal accounts, or even by being in contact with a GC43 Pilgrim you know. We hope you and those you share this story with encounter wisdom from across our church and embody this spirit of kindness and generosity that Newfoundland has in spades.

— by Navan Forsythe, the GC43 pilgrim from the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. For more, see www.navanthepilgrim.wordpress.com.

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