Our Methodist Heritage Spiritual Pilgrimage is an annual mission education trip that we offer to a select group of associates each year. At each historic site, we learn about our ministry’s Methodist heritage and reflect upon our community values of Compassion, Respect, Stewardship and Service and how they shape our leadership and community life.
The first day, we travel by bus to Old St. George’s Church and Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, which represent both the diversity and brokenness in the early Methodist movement. Next, we tour the first Methodist senior living agency in our area and head to Baltimore for an overnight stay in the Inner Harbor area. In the morning, we briefly visit Old Otterbein Church, which is the “Mother Church” for the former German-speaking evangelical traditions within United Methodism and invites us to reflect on our partners in ministry. We then tour the Strawbridge Shrine in New Windsor, MD and learn about the ministry of Robert Strawbridge, the first Methodist preacher in America, and reflect on the tension between initiative and teamwork. We conclude our journey at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church and Museum of Early American Methodism.
All along the way, we engage in reflection individual and group exercises which link our experiences to how we live out our core values. As such, we not only take a historical tour of significant Methodist heritage sites, but undertake a spiritual pilgrimage based on our core values, where we connect our current practice of ministry with the ideals and values of the Methodist movement in America.
In 2016, United Methodist Communities received Eagle Accreditation, the only faith-based accreditation process in the nation for older adult ministries, by the United Methodist Association (UMA). UMA is a nationwide best-practice consortium of older adult ministries and youth and family services affiliated with the United Methodist Church. During Eagle accreditation, our Pilgrimage won a Best Practice Award for excellence in mission education.