World Pilgrims Visit Washington, D.C.

Published on: August 15, 2016

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I was honored to represent Unity Atlanta, Norcross, Ga., and the worldwide Unity movement when I joined with Atlanta’s renowned interfaith leadership program, World Pilgrims, on a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., May 31–June 2, 2016. This pilgrimage was a rare opportunity for Atlanta’s pilgrims to share what they have learned through their travels and dialogues with national interfaith leadership.

The World Pilgrims gather people of different faiths to travel together, learn other faith traditions and deepen friendships. Each day a pilgrim is paired with someone from another faith. We share our faith journeys and personal stories for the entire day. Every time we change hotels each pilgrim has a new roommate from another faith. This simple approach has made an outstanding difference in the lives of the pilgrims and in our communities over the last ten years. I am amazed at how few people have heard of Unity! They love what they are hearing when I share my Unity story from childhood through almost 40 years as an ordained Unity minister. I have developed new, deep, loving relationships with many people of other faiths!

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Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser, Catherine Crosby, Nafeesha Madyun, Mike Holmes

I have participated in interfaith activities wherever I have had the opportunity to serve. I helped to found The Open Table interfaith group in Honolulu. (It’s successor is The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii.) I now serve on the Board of Atlanta’s Interfaith Community Initiatives, the parent organization of World Pilgrims. I have also participated in three Parliaments of the World’s Religions (Cape Town, South Africa, in 1999, where I gave a presentation on the past, present and future of the Unity movement; Barcelona, Spain, in 2004; and Melbourne, Australia, in 2009). In one of those Parliaments I heard a spiritual leader from a Canadian First Nation Tribe say, “What we do not understand, we fear. And what we fear we tend to destroy.” I believe that dialogue and heart-focused listening are essential to removing fear and bringing about understanding and peace.

I was truly amazed to find out that leaders in Washington, D.C., were as interested in the work of the World Pilgrims in Atlanta as we were about what is going on in our nation’s capital. The work of World Pilgrims has affected me and my ministry profoundly. We believe in going beyond tolerance all the way to the honoring of different views in different faiths. We do not try to proselytize or “convert” anyone. All people have sacred worth. All are included in the kingdom of God. Unity believes this, but, I am pleased to say, so do many other faiths!

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Atlanta’s World Pilgrims, discuss while waiting for the next event.

I find great joy in representing Unity, both locally and internationally, in such a powerful, diverse and loving program as World Pilgrims. Unity has been welcomed with open arms into the community of faith communities, and I love telling the Unity story. I believe, in some small way, I am helping bring about the peace we all desire among all people and all faiths. I strongly encourage Unity leaders to get involved in interfaith activities. I would love to see World Pilgrims in every city in the United States and around the world. I believe Unity and the world benefit from our participating in interfaith activities!

John Strickland
Rev John Strickland is minister at Unity Atlanta, Norcross, Ga. He is a past chair of UWM board of trustees and a longtime member of the convention ministry team. He has also served on other ministry teams. He is happy to promote Interfaith understanding and harmony. John is an avid cyclist and routinely raises funds for MS.

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