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Ghana Pilgrimage

Mar 16, 2017

 Photograph provided by: The Rev. Dr. Sharon Hiers

Photograph provided by: The Rev. Dr. Sharon Hiers

At the beginning of Lent, 10 members of the Diocese of Atlanta made a pilgrimage across the Atlantic Ocean to Ghana.

“We’re going to further our work in dismantling racism, and this gives us the opportunity to understand the full loop in our work of racial reconciliation,” said Easton Davis, Missioner for Youth and Young Adults and one of the pilgrims, before embarking. “[We want to] make connections and see the tangible location, face-to-face and understand the history even more by being in conversation with the local people. We want to have a better understanding of the significance that these places [hold for] the country of Ghana and the impact it has on our own country’s history.”

Ghana was a major departure point for the Colonial slave trade. Slave ships left West Africa from there destined for the Americas.

On their 9-day trip, the pilgrims visited several historically significant locations. The pilgrimage began on Ash Wednesday, at the Anglican Cathedral of St. Cyprian in Kumasi, where bishop Wright preached and the Most Rev. Daniel Yinka Sarfo, Archbishop and Primate of the Province of West Africa and bishop of Kumasi, presided. One of the stops was Cape Coast Castle, where slaves were held in the dungeons before being sold and then sent away on ships at the ports connected to the castle.

For one of our pilgrims, The Rev. Canon C. John Thompson-Quartey, Canon for Ministry of the Bishop’s Staff, the pilgrimage was one back home. Originally from Ghana, he left some 35 years ago. He was co-leader of this pilgrimage along with the Rev. Dr. Sharon Hiers, a daughter of South Carolina.

Before the trip, Thompson-Quartey wrote that he was full of so many emotions, acknowledging that no matter one’s race or background there are things to reconcile about our ancestors’ roles and place in history and the slave trade. He wrote, “As a native Ghanaian, I am keenly aware of the role my ancestors played in selling off Africans to the Europeans who coordinated the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.”

“I have returned to Ghana on several occasions for visits with family and friends, but this pilgrimage is different. Among the bishop’s entourage will be African-Americans and Anglo-Americans who are seeking to build the bridge of reconciliation by walking the paths that were once trodden by the shackled men, women and children of Africa, being led to a strange and foreign land.”

In choosing to go on a trip like this, the pilgrims were able to have experiences they could share with people here, back home, Davis said.

A pilgrimage like this gets a person more deeply connected to the work that we are doing right now, and that work is to continue to dismantle racism, and that work will never be finished, Davis said. “Racism is still very much alive in our country.”

While on their pilgrimage, they also had communion with our Anglican brothers and sisters at Christ Church Cathedral of Cape Coast and met with Bishop Torto of the Diocese of Accra. Clergy also had the opportunity to meet with students at the St. Nicholas Seminary.

Pilgrims included Ieasha Barrow, Executive Ministry Coordinator and Assistant to the Bishops and the Canon for Ministry; Abel Betances, young adult and Director of Youth Ministries at St. Clement’s; Easton Davis, Missioner for Youth and Young Adults; Ann Fowler, Director of Education Services Emmaus House; The Rev. Dr. Sharon Hiers, Senior Associate Rector at Church of the Epiphany; Janet Livingston, Diocesan Coordinator for Episcopal Relief and Development; the Rev. Canon George M. Maxwell, Jr., Vicar of the Cathedral of St. Philip; the Rev. Canon C. John Thompson-Quartey, Canon for Ministry of the Bishop’s Staff, the Venerable Janet Tidwell, ArchDeacon; and Bishop Rob Wright.

To see more pictures from the pilgrimage, please visit the Diocese of Atlanta Facebook page and Bishop Rob Wright’s Twitter from Feb. 26 to March 5.

Our Ghana pilgrims were honored to meet Sister Aba this afternoon. 15 years ago she, along with the Diocese of Kumasi, started an eye clinic that currently assists 70,000 people a year. The light of Christ shines brightly in this incredible woman.
Source: EDA Facebook Page on March 1
Credit: Easton Davis

Our Ghana pilgrims took the morning off to visit Kakum National Park.
Source: EDA Facebook Page on March 4
Credit: Easton Davis

This afternoon, our Ghana pilgrims visited the Cape Coast Castle. This castle is where slaves were held in the dungeon before being sold at market.
Source: EDA Facebook Page on March 3
Credit: Easton Davis

Today, our Ghana pilgrims set foot in the river where slaves received their last bath before heading to the market. The pilgrims prayed together before, during, and after their time in the river.
Source: EDA Facebook Page on March 2
Credit: Easton Davis