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All We Kindred Pilgrim Souls

Posted by Kayla Parker // July 19th 2012 // On Campus, soundings, Stories and Voices // 7 comments

I wrote a longer blog post, explaining the clear linkage that I saw between two important decisions that were made at this year’s General Assembly: repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery and expanding the definition of a congregation. I was then searching for a way to explain this in a liturgical and motivational manner. This sermon-esque response is in written form as well as video blog, both below. For the longer explanatory post, go here

Video Blog

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Written Blog

The answer to my search for a motivational way to share this message was in the name of our Offices’ blog the whole time. The answers to our hardest questions are always right in front of us, aren’t they? 

Blue Boat.

We chose this name as a tip of the hat to the hymn Blue Boat Home by Peter Mayer, a favorite song of many Unitarian Universalists, and especially popular for youth and young adults. It’s so popular because we all relate to it.

We are all pilgrims – people who journey to sacred places for religious reasons.

“Leaning over the edge in wonder
Casting questions into the deep
Drifting here with my ship’s companions
All we kindred pilgrim souls”

There is an amazing sense one gets through this song of being on an independent journey, but also of deep connection to other people and the earth.

We are all of the earth – one small part of the interconnected web of life.

“I give thanks to the waves upholding me
Hail the great winds urging me on
Greet the infinite sea before me
Sing the sky my sailor’s song”

Feeling this connection with our fellow travelers and the earth, we are reminded of the interdependent web of life and our responsibility to it. 

How can we be pilgrims who do not re-commit the same atrocities as the ones who came to settle the United States by way of the Doctrine of Discovery? 

The answers are, of course, right in front of us. In the great winds urging us on, the waves upholding us. They are in the wise and ancient earth that is constantly reminding us that we are of it, and do not own it. They are in our fellow travelers, our ship’s companions. 

Knowing that we are all pilgrims on sacred journeys, let us create spaces that are welcoming to all.
To those on the borders, to those without homes, to all wanderers and worshippers.
Let us not be confined by the physical space we occupy but have no right to own.
Let our faith breathe and move in people and the many forms they gather, not suffocate between walls. 

We are all migrants – we have travelled far and have many miles to go.

“I was born upon the fathoms
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the Earth is my blue boat home”

I look forward to never having to explain to another congregation that campus ministry is not something to do to ‘bring more young people into the pews’. Until that day, may I take a deep breath and explain that campus ministry, like many other ministries, is an outreach ministry to extend one’s congregation beyond it’s walls, not try to fit more people into them.

May we remember when we have been forced into a box.
May we forgive those who wronged us.
May we remember when we have forced others into a box.
May we ask forgiveness from those we wronged.
May we forgive ourselves,
and learning from our human error
live each day with more humanity and humility. 

May we be a movement of religious communities as diverse as the lifestyles and cultures of all who seek a community of acceptance and accountability in their search for truth and meaning. 

May our religious movement be a home for all wanderers and worshippers.

We are all migrants. We are all pilgrims. We are all of the earth.

May there be space here for all of us.



Note: the use of the hymn Blue Boat Home has been used with permission from Peter Mayer. Many thanks to Peter!


About the Author

Kayla Parker is editor of Becoming: A Spiritual Guide for Navigating Adulthood. She is currently a seminarian at Yale Divinity School, and Ministerial Intern at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden, CT.
7 Responses to “All We Kindred Pilgrim Souls”
  1. James Leonard Park says:

    Well done. I like the combination of seeing your face and hearing your voice.
    And I was also able to follow the text very easily.
    Perhaps you will want to do such presentations on a regular basis.
    This is one form of ministry beyond walls.
    It does not depend on owning any land!

    How do we get more people connected with this?

    James Leonard Park, retired staff member
    of the Unitarian Universalist Campus Ministries at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

    • Kayla Parker says:

      Thank you, James. I am planning on doing more video blogging, so this and all feedback is very helpful!

      I think the best way to get more people connected with this and other great messages and resources is by spreading it through your own personal/professional networks.

      Thank you for all the work you’ve done and continue to do in this movement!

  2. Derrick says:

    Kayla, this is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for this. I was just wondering if I could “borrow” some of the wonderful words you’ve written here for a service I’m doing this Sunday about the 7th principle because they’re so appropriate to the theme and so very moving! Let me know if that’s cool with you. Thanks again!

    • T. Resnikoff says:

      Hi Derrick,

      Kayla is on vacation and probably won’t see your request before Sunday. Please feel free to quote from her blog. -Ed.

      • Derrick says:

        Thank you, Ed!

        • Kayla Parker says:

          Derrick, I hope you did use whatever you wished and that it was helpful! I’d love to read your sermon as well. Is it available online somewhere or would you be able to email it to kparker @ uua . org?

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