A Glimpse Into Pastor Ben’s Telos Pilgrimage

Dear PCJH Family,

This past November 2021 I went on an eight-day pilgrimage with other pastors from around the U.S. to explore the uncomfortable truths of racial injustice in our nation’s past and present.  Highlights included New Orleans, Jackson Mississippi, Selma Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr.’s church in Montgomery, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (i.e. the Lynching Memorial), a must see for every American.

I would like to share my experience with you this Sunday, January 9th at 9:00am in the Chapel.  If you can’t make it this Sunday, I will also be sharing on Wednesday, January 12th at 7:00pm via Zoom.

My trip was part of a pastor peacemaking cohort I was invited to join through The Telos Group (www.telosgroup.org).  The mission of Telos is to form communities of American peacemakers across lines of difference, and equip them to help reconcile seemingly intractable conflicts at home and abroad.  In addition to our U.S. Pilgrimage, we will also be heading to Israel and Palestine in 2022 to learn and engage in peacemaking efforts in the Holy Land.

The cohort of pastors started meeting every other week by Zoom in early September and will continue to do so through Spring of 2022.  The other pastors in my cohort are exceptional.  I often wonder how I got invited to join such an accomplished group of people.

Our spiritual director was Rev. Michael Battle who led similar bipartisan congressional trips to the South with the late Senator John Lewis.  He also served as chaplain to Desmond Tutu.

One of the pastors in my cohort was Drew Jackson, a young African American poet and pastor in Manhattan.  He just recently published his first book entitled God Speaks Through Wombs: Poems on God’s Unexpected Coming.  I read it during Advent and it was a powerful reflection on the first eight chapters of the Gospel of Luke written through the lens of a young black man in America.  Award winning artist, Jon Batiste, goes to Drew’s church and wrote the Foreword to his book.

One of our guests on the trip was an Israeli woman by the name of Robi Damelin, the Israeli spokesperson and member of the Parents Circle, a group of 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost close family members to the conflict and who work together for reconciliation and peace in Israel and Palestine.  Robi was named as a 2015 Woman of Impact by Women in the World.  Her story is featured in the documentary, One Day after Peace.

There were several other people who joined me on the pilgrimage.  I’ll tell you more about them if you come to my class.  One of them was just recently on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  : )

Come hear about my transformative trip from this past November!  I will share stories, insights, revelations, and photos.  There will be time for Q&A as well.  It has taken me a while to process the pilgrimage and so I haven’t shared much about it yet, but I am ready to do so this Sunday, January 9th at 9:00am in the Chapel.  I would love for you to come and hear about it.  It will serve as the introduction to the class Tammy and I are co-facilitating on The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby, which will start the following Sunday/Wednesday.  Jemar Tisby is an African American church historian and Presbyterian from Jackson, MS.  I went to his church and met his pastor and best friend while on my pilgrimage.  I think Jemar’s book is a must read for every Christian in America today.

Hope to see you Sunday (or Wednesday)!

In Christ,

-Pastor Ben

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