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Faith Without Borders: Pilgrimage and Witness

Pilgrimage and Witness includes all varieties of sacred travel by members of a congregation to visit a partner church, organization, or justice project in another part of the world.

Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations are invited to use the following check-list as a way of evaluating the inclusion of Pilgrimage and Witness in their international engagement.

  • Our congregation plans a pilgrimage with its partner church or to other sacred places.
    • Biennially
    • Annually
  • Our congregation visits a justice project in another country, studies its goals and methods, and shares them widely.
    • Biennially
    • Annually
  • Our congregation provides an effective witnessing presence to a justice project in another country.
    • Biennially
    • Annually
  • Our congregation provides financial assistance for the costs of these pilgrimages.
  • Our congregation supports a pilgrimage or witness trip by members of its Youth Group.
  • Our congregation invites a U/U colleague or a colleague in justice work from another country for a faithful and constructive visit.
    • Biennially
    • Annually

If your congregation fulfills two or more of these examples of Pilgrimage and Witness, you’re well on the way towards integrating this aspect of international engagement.

Please consider choosing one or two additional elements to grow into over the next 1-3 years. If there are other ways in which your congregation is involved in international Pilgrimage and Witness, please share them with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) International Resources Office (IRO).

Resources for Pilgrimage and Witness

  1. The UU Partner Church Council has a long track record of offering partnered churches assistance planning congregational pilgrimages, as well as opportunities for sacred travel to various Unitarian/Universalist churches around the world. Please visit Pilgrimage Opportunities for more information, and consider applying for their Travel Grant program.
  2. Visiting a justice project as a learning, witnessing or solidarity-building experience can be very powerful. These opportunities can be designed uniquely by an individual congregation or planned with an organization like the UU Service Committee (UUSC) (see Just-Journeys), the Casa Collective, or Interfaith Peace Builders. The IRO can help you find a supporting organization, or consult with you as you design your own justice/witness trip.
  3. When designing pilgrimage and witness experiences it is important that the cost of the opportunity is not a barrier. Raising funds for a congregationally sponsored pilgrimage/witness trip can be a galvanizing experience that creates commitment and involvement from the entire congregation. Contact the IRO for practical suggestions.
  4. Unitarian Universalist youth group pilgrimages, witness trips and work camps are a great ministry. Careful planning or partnering with supporting organizations is extremely important. The IRO can share experience and wisdom about youth trips with you as you plan.
  5. Balanced pilgrimage and witness programs include visits to North American congregations by leaders from around the world. The IRO can help you with your planning.

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