From Loss to Hope: Pilgrimage for Earth, 2014

 Read and download the complete Pilgrimage 2014 Booklet here:

From Loss to Hope: Pilgrimage for Earth



About Pilgrimage for Earth: From Loss to Hope (June 26 – June 29, 2014):

Pilgrimage for Earth was an opportunity to participate in healing the Earth community through undertaking a sacred journey – a pilgrimage – from loss to hope. In a time when climate change, mass extinction, and other environmental crises threaten people and other forms of life, Pilgrimage for Earth enacted the healing of the world through liturgy. In the original Greek, liturgy means “the public work” – communal action that both ritually and practically transforms and heals participants and the world. Through experiences including tree planting, guided meditation, singing, silent reflection, engaged conversation, and celebrating the hope and promise of new life, Pilgrims worked to transform their relationship with Earth and cultivate an active spiritual discipline of environmental stewardship.

Rooted in the Christian tradition of death and rebirth as exemplified in Easter – itself a transformation of loss into hope – the Pilgrimage welcomed people of all faiths and traditions. 

The Pilgrimage was a project of St. James Episcopal Church of Woodstock VT, and Church of the Woods / Kairos Earth of Canterbury, NH – with support from the Episcopal Dioceses of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Activities crossed two states, five locations, and featured six liturgical services over the course of four days. 

June 26: The program began with the inauguration of the 106-acre Church of the Woods, founded by the Rev. Stephen Blackmer, recently ordained to the priesthood after a career in conservation. Activities included contemplative walking, tree-planting, foot-washing, and a simple Eucharistic meal and service recalling the Last Supper. Music included Shaker songs in the spirit of nearby Canterbury Shaker Village.

June 27: On Friday, Pilgrims gathered for an afternoon event on the Connecticut River where the Rev. Thomas Troeger, Lantz Professor of Christian Communication at Yale Divinity School, led meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ. Each ‘Word’ was paired with a contemporary writing on Earth’s distress, and accompanied by bagpipes and African drum. The day ended at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Norwich, VT, with a version of Tenebrae – a traditional Holy Week service – featuring polyphonal Renaissance a cappella settings and a Litany of Extinct Species. Traditional spoken passages from the psalms and the book of Lamentations were joined by the contemporary poems of Wendell Berry.

June 28: The daytime events on Saturday comprised workshops, meditations, hikes, and worship in the spirit of Holy Saturday. Prof. Troeger, whose presence and preaching was a golden thread throughout the Pilgrimage, led prayers of lament for the suffering of Earth and the death of species by human hands. The day’s activities took place at Mission Farm and Church of Our Savior in Killington, VT, a 170-acre site with trails and a 19th century stone church. The day concluded with a simple supper at Mission Farm followed by a brief liturgy celebrating God’s presence in the world as a source of hope and new life in the face of loss.

June 29: On Sunday, the service of Holy Eucharist at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Hanover, NH, featured a liturgy focused on the Easter hope we bring to our work in nurturing God’s Earth.

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 Photos and Reflections from Pilgrimage for Earth:


“The biggest thing for me was making a connection with what seems to be a new emerging community of what I would call like-minded souls that I didn’t really know existed. It was wonderful to meet a group of people who cared about nature in the way that I do and who were also people of faith and wanted to talk about environmentalism in the context of Christian belief. Because that’s something that frequently is awkward. I’ll be talking to other people who care about various environmental issues and for me it’s a matter of faith, but I’m not able to bring that into the discussion at all. I feel like I have to stifle part of myself when I’ve talked about environmental issues in the past…It was wonderful to be able to bring my whole self, my integrated self, and put it out on the table and know that other people shared that approach and those values.” – Wendy Weiger



“The Pilgrimage for Earth was a great idea, and a meaningful experience. I am only sorry that conflicts in my schedule meant I could only participate on Thursday and Sunday. I especially liked the event in Canterbury…I had already concluded, after a long period of discernment which included many travails and false starts, that my true ministry on Earth is to help people find God through His/Her Creation. And the Pilgrimage only reinforced that!” — Peter Hope


“I was drawn to the pilgrimage because I’m deeply concerned about the ways in which human patterns have compromised the fabric of life on the planet. For me it is a moral issue which presses us to reconfigure our sense of who we are in relation to things intimate and ultimate: the cosmos, the life force, the God energy, the more-than-human world, Earth as a living being upon which we depend. I can’t imagine all the necessary systemic change happening without genuine moments of metanoia occurring in countless humans all across the globe. Through the connecting power of climate change and the internet, we seem poised for this to happen—or not—in the next few years. Surely faith traditions have an essential role to play in tipping us toward a constructive response, but only as they are able to make the deep transformations themselves, becoming conscious of their own embeddedness in narrow, dualistic, or hierarchical patterns of thought, thereby becoming porous to fresh insight, even revelation.” – Karen Thorkilsen


“I treasured the opportunity to be with other Christians who are exploring the Paschal Mystery in light of the assault on the biosphere and on Creation. That’s very close to my heart. The intersection of faith and ecology is central to my concern so I loved being a part of a very prayerful exploration of Creation and the crucifixion and what the resurrection might possibly mean.” – Margaret Bullitt-Jonas


“I was pleased to see the turnout for Thursday’s kickoff of the pilgrimage. The choral music set a great mood for the beginning of the journey. My principle take away from Thursday was that I am committing to spend more time in nature this year, to learn about myself and my relation to the Earth. I hope to confirm my own path for making a difference.” — Tom Rumpf

“I think that my greatest impression is of the extraordinary cooperation, trust, faith, and work that went into envisioning and creating such an event. I am deeply touched by the loving thoughtfulness that was present in every aspect of planning. That, in itself, is inspirational…What was especially meaningful to me [was] the chance to be on pilgrimage with people who I trusted explicitly. Such trust and openness led to very deep and still meditation on Saturday afternoon. I am grateful for your creating that deep time and space.” – Elizabeth Ferry