News - Experiential Learning, Justice Ministry Pilgrimage A Success

Experiential Learning, Justice Ministry Pilgrimage A Success

By Carla Morris

“Place” can be a profound teacher.

Consider the cornfields skirting Money, Mississippi, close to the site of Emmett Till’s lynching more than 60 years ago.

Freedom Trail SignEvents leading to the 14-year-old’s brutal death came alive for participants in Greenville University’s Justice Ministry course this May when they walked the ground Emmett walked and surveyed the place where he was snatched from his bed, tied up and taken away into the night.

Onsite recollections of that iconic event and others comprised the innovative course designed around "pilgrimage." More than a tour, the journey provided "sacred spaces" for students to reflect, pray and connect events of the past with meaningful ministry today.

About 20 enrollees—seminary students, pastors, professors and authors—studied the gospel and politics of race by visiting places in the Deep South where key events occurred. Students earned undergraduate, graduate or continuing education credits in the process.

Huge SuccessLisa Sharon Harper headshot

Lisa Sharon Harper, author of The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right, led the pilgramage. She blogged about the group’s poignant experience on a gravel road near Money and the cornfields that “stretched on for miles.” The setting gave context for understanding sharecroppers like Emmett Till’s uncle, whose home once stood among those fields, and context for how strange the rural south may have seemed to his visiting nephew, who was born and raised in Chicago.

The pilgrimage included travel by bus over seven days with stops at historical sites and museums, live testimonies and time for participants to forge relationships with fellow travelers of diverse races, ethnicities and generations.

“This first Justice Ministry course was a huge success,” said Ben Wayman, the James F. and Leona N. Andrews Chair in Christian Unity at Greenville University, where he also serves as assistant professor of theology.

FreedomTrail-3The Work of Shalom Powered by Generous Sponsors

The pilgrimage received over $22,000 in funding for student scholarships from Initiatives of Change, The United Methodist Church, and World Relief. The Justice Conference also contributed a gift in kind valued at $9,000 for a videographer and an interviewer who are currently putting together a documentary about the pilgrimage.

The sponsorships celebrate visionary and innovative learning, “the kind of education the church in America desperately needs,” says Wayman. “We are grateful for these partnerships and look forward to deepening our collaboration with these organizations and others who are committed to God's work of shalom in the world.”

Join an Upcoming Pilgrimage

Greenville University has scheduled three additional Justice Ministry pilgrimages for the 2018-19 school year. Topics include:

  • Gender and Dominion (November 2018)
  • Immigration, Exploitation, and Kingdom Economics (January 2019)
  • Colonization and the Native American Experience (May 2019)

For more information, contact Ben Wayman at ben.wayman@greenville.edu.

Learn More About Experiential Learning at G.U.

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Give the incomparable gift of experience to students today by funding a scholarship through The Greenville University Fund. Click here to give.

Top and bottom photos courtesy of Lexi Baysinger.

This story was published on July 20, 2018




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