During the last week of July, Saint Alban's of Fort Wayne youth group went on a pilgrimage to London and the original Saint Alban's in England. The trip was helped by a grant from the Center for Congregations. Matt Burke, the director of the Center for Northeast Indiana, helped kickoff our pilgrimage on the Sunday before we left with a special pilgrimage commissioning. The group also appreciated the prayer support of many in the church.
The group had been preparing for the pilgrimage for over a year. Pilgrimage classes were held every third Sunday of the month in the evening, and anyone could attend. The classes focused on learning the Church History of England and British culture. The two main pilgrimage sites were Westminster Abbey and the original Saint Alban’s.
We visited Westminster Abbey the Thursday we were there. After a beautiful Holy Communion service held in the nave, the on-call priest, Reverend Giles, took us to the Shrine of Saint Edward the Confessor for a special prayer service. This is generally not something most people get to do. However, the people at the Abbey were wonderful. After this we received a special tour of the Abbey.
Our time at Saint Alban's was equally blessed. David Skidmore of “The Friends of Saint Alban” set-up a blessed day for us. We came to worship on the Sunday we were there. Dean Jeffrey John was very gracious and invited Fr. Dan to preach. The Dean celebrated at the High Altar in a beautiful service. We also received a great tour giving us a tremendous look at the history, ending at the Shrine of Saint Alban.
Our pilgrimage had other foci as well. We visited The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, a bus tour of the city, a river boat cruise, Platform 9 3⁄4 (of Harry Potter fame), and a visit to the British Museum. In addition many in our group went to Stonehenge, Kensington Palace, Abbey Road, and a tour of the M&M factory. We also had fun in the evenings riding the London Eye, Going to the Hard Rock Cafe, seeing a hilarious play called “The Play that Goes Wrong,” and a funny ghost bus tour on Saturday evening.
The people of London and Saint Alban's were absolutely wonderful and extremely helpful. We ran into many London “angels” who helped our experience be a special one not soon forgotten. Pilgrimage is about seeing how God transforms us on a very special journey. God certainly touched the lives of many on our London Pilgrimage.
To see photos of the experience visit the Saint Albans youth group Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/Saint-Albans-Youth-Group-123906497747/
Written by the Rev. Dan Laydon, Rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Fort Wayne