Friday, May 02, 2014

where would we pilgrim in South Australia?

Four overseas examples of pilgrimage and faith formation have got me asking – where would we pilgrim in South Australia?

These four overseas examples of pilgrimage and faith formation have got me thinking – where would we pilgrim in South Australia? Where would we go to connect with the stories from God’s past activity, in order to help discern our participation in God’s future?

I have a student doing a Guided reading with me on this very topic. She’s going on “Celtic” pilgrimage to the UK. More importantly, as she does, she’s asking what it means back in her local, rural, community?

Now I know that at Uniting College we have Walking on Country in which we spend time listening to indigenous stories. And in July there is a Mission immersion trip to Melbourne, to look at examples of current mission practice.

Are these the same sort of innovations? Or is there a local mission pilgrimage piece that’s still beckoning us?

Posted by steve at 10:33 AM


  1. I like the question. I reckon that people have been going on pilgrimages in SA for many years. So perhaps it is “where have we found pilgrimage”?. I assume you’re asking for stories of where people have been on pilgrimage in SA.

    My wife and daughters’ pilgrimage to Ernabella with others was quite profound for them. I remember a trip to the Flinders Ranges in about 1983, with quite profound experiences. The local mission immersions in the first Big Year Out were quite significant for those involved.

    I suppose part of the question is what is involved in pilgrimage, and another part is about discovering old trails or making new ones. My other comment in response to your examples is about how different this land is geographically and historically. I think Australians are used to long trips of great significance, often in cars, in groups, with bush or beach a part of it.

    I’m puzzled by the missionary walk thing. I understand why it makes sense in the UK. Our visit to the Mecca pilgrimage history display in the Islamic Museum in Kuala Lumpur was an astonishing experience for me. So what is pilgrimage? Traversing the journeys of missionaries? Visiting sacred sites? Encounter with Creation? A shared experience with friends? A personal spiritual pilgrimage that has little to do with any of the above? A group or personal tracking of one’s history (ie. walking on country)?

    The thing that resonates with me is not that people haven’t had pilgrimage experiences (as if SA was devoid of that), but that faith communities are less likely to encourage and send people on these, or to recognise, celebrate and learn from the pilgrimages that their members experience. Insularity versus outward journey. In my research I certainly encountered congregations who were actively sending people on pilgrimage.

    Thanks steve. a great question as always. I probably reacted a bit against the implication that people overseas had been on pilgrimages but no-one here had been. But the question of intentional pilgrimage, whatever that means, is a great one. (and BTW I did have some reading suggestions for that student if it is not too late for her…)

    Comment by Craig Mitchell — May 3, 2014 @ 1:13 am

  2. Thanks Craig. The student paper is still in process, so any suggestions gratefully received.

    My post wasn’t meant to suggest pilgrimage hadn’t happened in SA, just that I can’t see much evidence of it at the moment (apart from the 2 egs I listed in the post) and more importantly, I wondered where the places might be.


    Comment by steve — May 3, 2014 @ 9:22 pm

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