The Office of Congregational Development is pleased to announce that three people have been awarded scholarships to join the 2017 Taizé Pilgrimage.
The $2,000 scholarships were awarded to help foster new Taizé-style services based on the principles used by the community in France here in New England.
The awardees are: Pastor Nelson Cowan of First UMC in North Andover, MA; David Cushing, a layperson from Faith Community UMC in Plymouth, MA, and Pastor Hannah Rogers of Rutland (VT) UMC.
Upon their return from Taizé (the pilgrimage is July 21-31), each participant will work with a coach, chosen in consultation with Conference Director of Congregational Development Rick McKinley, to create a new Taizé-style service. These new services are part of Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar’s initiative to develop 10 new Taizé-based services in the Conference over the next four years.
"Taizé-style services can provide another way for people to enter a life a faith and allow congregations to reach new, younger, more diverse people as together we fulfill the mission of The United Methodist Church," said Rev. McKinley.
Each year, tens of thousands of people, mostly ages 16-35, make the pilgrimage to Taizé, France, to experience the way of life adopted by Brother Roger in 1940. This way of life finds expression as these pilgrims, using the prayer service as part of their spiritual growth, return home and continue to live out the principles of peace, reconciliation and justice.
Each of the scholarship recipients was asked to explain why she/he is interested in making the pilgrimage to Taizé. Here’s some of what they had to say:
“I am a scholar of liturgical studies and I am fascinated with the collision of liturgy, devotion, pilgrimage, intentional community, and musical excellence – all of which takes place at Taizé. I want to have conversations with community members to see how this way of life affects their entire humanity. I want to experience the role of music in corporate worship, the regard of the Eucharist, and the way of living in community affects all of that. … Taizé will be such a great resource for my own pastoral leadership ... First UMC wants ‘new’ things, but they also have a profound love and respect for tradition, both of which complement my calling as an academic and a pastor. … I want to encounter God in a new and fresh way, then take the beauty of that encounter and let it inform my pastoral and scholarly work, all to the glory of God.”
“The church needs to change and adapt both locally and globally. I am extremely excited about the prospect of being part of the Taizé community, and finding innovative ways to connect with others through music and various forms of worship expression … and be exposed to a form of worship expression completely unlike any of the ones I have been previously exposed to. … my brother Todd Cushing went on the first trip with Bishop Devadhar to Taizé, and it was life-changing for him. Today, he is a sophomore at Baldwin Wallace University and considering becoming a pastor!”
“The congregation and community I serve have failed to reach youth and young adults … we have erroneously imagined that this demographic wants to be
entertained more than challenged, fed more than encouraged to understand their hunger. I believe the Taizé pilgrimage is an opportunity to explore both these themes … The church in the 21st century must be relating globally, transcending differences of creed or custom, and Taizé provides this experience for both the youth I hope to bring as well as providing myself an opportunity to humbly listen, observe, and participate. Having just ‘crossed the threshold’ from young adult status myself, I often have felt I am asked to tell others what young people want, and yet this task is fraught with problems if I am not an active listener.”