Pilgrimage will bring local faith leaders together in July

Record Editor

The people of Christ the King Church at 724 S. 44th St., will take part in a “Spiritual Pilgrimage” July 15 that will bring together representatives of five world religions.

The idea for the pilgrimage came to the Rev. Alta Burnett three years ago after she experienced a similar event in India. She’s a retired Unity Church minister, and the creator of a new local religious organization called “Beads on One String.”

“The name came from the words of a revered Indian master I heard on that pilgrimage,” the Rev. Burnett said in a telephone interview last week. “He said we should think about bringing together all of the world’s religions, like beads on one string, and work to revitalize them for both individual and collective needs.”

Her experience in India was so profound, she said, that the germ of an idea for a similar event here in Louisville was planted.

“My organization is new and I’m just now trying to get it off the ground in my own humble and awkward kind of way,” she said. “The idea is to get people from the major religions together, to meet with and encourage each other; to model religious harmony and unity for the Louisville community and, we hope, for the world at large.”

The plan for the pilgrimage is simple — the Rev. Burnett has rented a bus with room for 44 people, and they will gather at 1:15 p.m. on July 15 in the parking lot of a Kmart store at 3911 Taylorsville Road. From there they will visit five churches, temples or other religious sites.

Their first stop will be Christ the King Church, and its pastor, Father John T. Judie, is delighted to be a part of the process.

“I’m sorry that I won’t be there when the pilgrimage occurs, because I’ll be on my annual trip to Africa,” he explained. “But the people of Christ the King parish are excited about being a part of this event. When I first heard from Alta Burnett, when she called me and told me about it, I talked with the parish council and they thought it was a wonderful idea.”

Welcoming people is one of the things the people of Christ the King Church do best, the pastor said.

“In terms of our parish community, our folk always jump at any opportunity to bring people together, regardless of whatever lines we have to cross to do it,” Father Judie said. “Racial, religious or economic differences — if there’s a good cause and a good reason to bring people together, the people of Christ the King always welcome the chance.”

Father Judie also noted that, while the Archdiocese of Louisville no longer has a formal Office of Ecumenism, these kinds of ecumenical efforts can have a positive effect on both the church and the community.

“My hope is that this event will inspire some people to think about getting together like this more often,” he said.

The pilgrims plan to spend a half-hour at Christ the King Church, then leave at about 2:15 p.m. for the following sites:

  • The Islamic Cultural Center of Louisville at 4007 Upper River Road.
  • The Temple, 5010 U.S. Highway 42.
  • The Drepung Gomang (Buddhist) Institute at 411 N. Hubbards Lane.
  • The Hindu Temple of Kentucky at 4213 Accomack Drive.

“The main thing is that people will gather for a few minutes of quiet time, and as a group they will call for the name of God in whatever name is appropriate for that religious site,” Father Judie noted. “So it will provide a chance for people of different faiths to share their faiths with one another. And our people are happy for the chance.”

The Rev. Burnett said she hopes every seat on the bus is reserved by the time of the July 15 pilgrimage.

“I hope it is filled to overflowing,” she said, “but all we can do is the best planning we can. We’ll offer this to God, because it’s not our world, but his.”

The minister said her goal for the day is to replicate, to the extent possible, the sense of unity she felt with others on the 15-day pilgrimage in India three years ago.

“It was a strenuous pilgrimage, and we came through those 15 days with a real sense of oneness,” she said. “It didn’t matter what religious tradition we were from, we felt that we were all one. That was a key experience for me and for everyone else there, and I hope it’s what happens with this pilgrimage, too.”

Those interested in taking part in the July 15 Beads on One String Spiritual Pilgrimage can contact the organization by email at beadsburnett@gmail.com or visit the organization’s website at www.beadsononestring.org.

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