Now in its 40th anniversary year, the Easter Monday Youth Pilgrimage (EMYP) is a celebrated tradition that has been enjoyed by thousands of young people for four decades. The colourful and high spirited Pilgrimage is organised by a committee of young people from parishes in the Canterbury diocese; It provides a unique opportunity for young Christians to make their way from across the region to the Cathedral to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, joined the Service. He is the sixth Archbishop to have participated in the annual event.
This year, for the first time, a fourth mini pilgrimage was introduced, and this meant that groups would be walking in from the four cardinal points of the compass. The band of merry pilgrims converged at the Cathedral at 12 noon and took part in an afternoon of worship, celebration, thought and reflection.
Having been involved with the annual event for the past three years, Christian Schools’ worker Nathan Wilson (23) provides us with an insight into this celebrated yearly event…
EMYP celebrated its 40th anniversary this year with another brilliant event in Canterbury Cathedral” began Nathan.“The event has only ever missed a couple of years in that time, including the year when foot and mouth made walking completely impractical.
The EMYP welcomes predominately teenagers from churches across the Canterbury diocese, although it has been great to welcome young people from our link diocese of Arras to the last few pilgrimages, this year bringing with them us a French worship song. We also welcomed some Canadian visitors for the first time, and we hope to make both those links stronger over the coming 12 months.
For some of the pilgrims the event starts on Easter Sunday as they start walking from their parishes, staying overnight at village halls en route. For most other pilgrims the day starts at one of the four mini-pilgrimage points – Chartham, Patrixbourne, Sturry and Harbledown – where young people gather to walk into the Cathedral. The pilgrimage is led by a local volunteer and by a member of diocesan staff; Bishop Trevor this year walked from Chartham. This walk at the beginning of the event is a crucial part of why we do the pilgrimage. It gives an opportunity for excitement to build and for conversations to happen between young people, and between different youth groups too.
This year it was fantastic to welcome Archbishop Justin to his first EMYP, just 10 days after his enthronement in the Cathedral. He joined us for the first half of our event which is an upbeat short Service of introduction to the Cathedral and to introduce the theme of our day together. It was a privilege to interview him in front of the assembled 700 pilgrims and find out about his hopes for his new job and also a little bit about what makes him tick. Archbishop Justin was able to stay for our lunch break and he spoke to many of the pilgrims there during this time.
In the second Service, we heard a reading from Philippians 2:12-18 encouraging us to shine like stars and it was great to welcome Rev Phil Greig (curate at Chartham) to speak to us on that theme. We all went home with a light bulb shaped fridge magnet with Psalm 119:105 written on it to remind us to stay close to God’s word.
The exciting thing about EMYP being a predominately youth event is that young people are constantly moving through our churches as they grow up and therefore each year there are new faces of young people who are excited to come to this event.
My hope and prayer is that EMYP continues to be an event that is well attended by young people across the diocese and helps to excite them about their faith and the impact it can have on their lives.
Nathan Wilson (23), Christian Schools’ worker
To watch the news coverage of this year’s event, click here
If you would like to know more about this event and possibly take part next year, then please click here.