Oct 28: Saeed Richardson, “Pilgrimage in Ghana”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015, 1:30-2:45pm (Swift 200)
Rev. Saeed T. Richardson

Ghana as a source of pilgrimage for Black American Christians
University of Chicago Divinity School 2015 International Ministry Study Grant

Abstract: Many Christians in the United States speak of pilgrimage to the Holy Lands that border the Mediterranean Sea. Knowing one’s physical family origin, it becomes a matter of completeness to walk in the origins of one’s spiritual existence, too. However, for the great majority of Black Americans in the United States, there is no family origin to complement those spiritual roots. Furthermore, the very concept of pilgrimage – a rite that supposes powerful change internally and externally – is foreign to most who live in broken, underprivileged communities. This study explores pilgrimage as a theological and anthropological model for Black Americans to make sense of their ancestral heritage, their Christianity, and slavery. The 8-week long venture spanned conversations with pastoral leaders, chiefs, civic leaders, elders, men, women, and even children, across eight regions in Ghana, investigating three primary questions:

1. What does it mean to be Black?
2. What does it mean to be Christian?
3. How does one live at the intersection of questions one and two in a post slavery world?

Can walking in a distant homeland impact one’s community thousands of miles away? Can pilgrimage to Ghana dispel the severed connection to African history the majority of Black Americans experience? In light of the many issues that have divided the American Black community over the last 50 years (violence, drug & alcohol abuse, incarceration to name a few), can pilgrimage be a unifying and empowering resource, in much the same way that pilgrimage is for our Jewish and Islamic siblings? Surely these insights if studied and found valuable would be of great worth to congregations, neighborhoods, barbershops, hair salons, and families not just on the South Side of Chicago but across the nation, and perhaps even in Ghana. One can dare to believe it will have such effects.

Rev. Saeed T. Richardson
Pastor, Chaplain, & Dual Degree Graduate Student
University of Chicago Schools of Divinity and Social Service Administration

Light refreshments will be provided.

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