The youth of Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church are headed on a pilgrimage of sorts to study the roots of their faith and see one of their own participating in mission work.

 

Forty-five kids in grades seven through 12, accompanied by 11 adults, leave June 12 for a 10-day visit to and .

 

Their first stop is the town of Edinburgh, , considered the home of Presbyterianism, said youth ministry director Steve Cairns. They will visit the home of John Knox, the founder of Scottish Presbyterianism, and perform a choir concert at Saint Giles’ Cathedral, regarded as the faith’s mother church.

 

“It’s not quite like the , but it’s as close as we get,” Cairns says.

 

But their first day overseas will be spent performing mission work — manual labor at an outdoor education center.

 

“We’ll set the tone for the whole trip by doing a day of hard work before we do anything fun,” he says.

 

The trip combines several themes — mission, song, history and prayer, Cairns says. On the journey’s second leg, the group will travel to the site where Christianity was first established in , the Isle of Iona.

 

Hundreds of religious pilgrims and tourists visit the tiny island and its abbey daily during the summer months. Cairns says the youth group will spend the day in quiet prayer and study, then sing that evening in the abbey.

 

“I hope they’ll gain an understanding for our history as Presbyterians but also as Christians,” he says.

 

Burke Hall, 14, says he expects the bus ride to Iona — through the rural hills of — to be a highlight of the trip.

 

“I’m not as much looking forward to the urban spots,” he says.

 

The group will also visit Stirling Castle , site of William Wallace’s 1297 triumph over invading English forces. Mel Gibson dramatized Wallace’s life in the movie “Braveheart.”

 

The final three days of the trip will be spent in Belfast, Northern Island , where church member Mel Prentice is serving a one-year mission assignment, Cairns says. The 24-year-old works with a program that unites Protestant and Catholic children in an after-school program.

 

“That’s one of the reasons we chose to do this trip this year,” Cairns says. “Maybe seeing someone they know doing this kind of work will stir an interest in them in serving the church in some way, in serving the world in some way.”

 

Says Hall: “It kind of opens a whole new world and new opportunities to be in a whole new place and helping other people.”

 

The youth group held three fund-raising dinner concerts to raise money for the trip. They also participated in a “pilgrim rental” event, hiring out their services for baby sitting, yard work and other labor. Each traveler had to raise $1,500.

 

The youth group has made past mission trips to Mexican border towns, but the pilgrimage is the first overseas voyage. Cairns says he plans to schedule such trips every six years so that each child has an opportunity to go during their time in the youth program.

 


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