Boston Pilgrimage
UU Church Today, Practice & Voice

Boston Pilgrimage: Growth, Values, and Belief




Each Spring, the Coming of Age class, All Souls Youth program for 9th graders, embarks on the annual Boston Pilgrimage. They learned about modern Unitarian Universalism, our religious heritage, and how our history is intertwined with American history, including our country’s founding.

The COA class spends the year exploring their values and beliefs. During the Boston Pilgrimage, they bring all their experiences and understanding together to articulate their individual credos at Walden Pond.

On Coming of Age Sunday, aka the Best Sunday of the Year, you can hear our 9th graders share their statements of belief from the pulpit. Everyone is invited to join them in the Sanctuary at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 28.

We asked the 2019 class what they learned from their Boston Pilgrimage this year. Here’ some of their reflections and photos:

Boston Pilgrimage 2019 Coming of Age Arlington Street Church

Ashlyn Caldwell 
The sermon at Arlington Street Church taught me a new way to thing about leaving a legacy. The roots and history of the church was cool to see, especially the Tiffany stained glass windows and the bell tower. We played Ode to Joy. I really discovered myself at Walden Pond. I didn’t think I had the confidence to finish my credo, but I found that I did. I wasn’t sure that being in my own isolated space and writing would work, but it sure as heck did! Visiting Harvard Divinity School was the most moving part of the trip for me, but all of it was moving. I really grew on this trip and getting to go with my friends was amazing. I loved hearing everyone’ credos, and surprisingly had a hard time sharing mine. That pulpit was so meaningful and has so much prominence behind it, it was overwhelming in a great way.  

Boston Pilgrimage 2019 Coming of Age

There was no part of the pilgrimage that I would change. Together, we learned, laughed, and grew in Boston.  —Mataya Woodard

Mataya Woodard 
Though the Boston Pilgrimage I gained a deeper understanding of UU history along with American history while bonding with the other people in my group. Each thing that we did had a moving and enlightening aspect to the activity. In the Mapparium, I really enjoyed the masterful art to make the globe along with the message that they conveyed in the globe—using quotes from famous civil rights activists. The globe had a way of bringing the world to me. Along with the MappariumArlington Street Church combined everything we learned with the message of “Be a Good Ancestor.” This message was very interesting and good food for thought when doing my credo writing. There was no part of the pilgrimage that I would change. Together, we learned, laughed, and grew in Boston.  

Boston Pilgrimage 2019 Coming of Age

Sophie Latham
Going to Boston was really helpful when it came to developing my credo. The sermon at Arlington Street Church moved me to tears. The beauty and love and trust the speaker showed us was powerful. The only thing more powerful to me was the Holocaust Memorial, which moved me to tears also. I was full on WEEPING. On a lighter note, the woman who led the Freedom Trail was absolutely hilarious. She was so happy to be there and made me smile after a very long day. The spiritual stuff was amazing but 2 a.m. diner food will forever be in my memories.  

Boston Pilgrimage 2019 Coming of Age

The Holocaust Memorial was so sad, but it’s so important to go see it and to learn about the past so we don’t relive it. —Sophie Ricketts

Sophie Ricketts
While we were at Arlington Street Church, I learned that religion should have reason. I hiked around the entire Walden Pond, it was icy and quiet. Harvard Divinity School was Beautiful The pulpit was so moving that I cried. The Holocaust Memorial was so sad, but it’s so important to go see it and to learn about the past so we don’t relive it. The quotes and stories were very emotional.  

Boston Pilgrimage 2019 Coming of Age

Demetra Sanders 
On the Boston Pilgrimage, I learned that Arlington Street Church is similar to All Souls, such as being a UU church with a bell tower. But, some of the physical differences are they have a huge pulpit and their service is longer than ours but we have three different services. The balcony in the church was for anyone to sit and ours is used for the choir. But, overall, I found a lot of similarities between my church and Arlington.  

Boston Pilgrimage 2019 Coming of Age

I learned more about my friends, we became closer. I learned a lot about myself and what I believe in too.  —Annelise Eggen-McElmurry

Annelise Eggen-McElmurry 
I loved learning about Henry David Thoreau and Anne Whitney while on the Boston Pilgrimage. I learned more about my friends, we became closer. I learned a lot about myself and what I believe in too.  

Boston Pilgrimage 2019 Coming of Age

Going on the Boston Pilgrimage has changed me.—Kennedy Hall

Kennedy Hall 
Going on the Boston Pilgrimage has changed me. At Arlington Street Church, the pulpit inspired me in the work I did for my credo. All the stained glass was cool but my favorite one was when Mary went to the Angel Gabriel and it was the “guess what, you’re pregnant!” part of the story. I also really liked the bell tower, since we got to play the bells. Waldon Pond was amazing although it was really cold. It was inspirational because when Thoreau wrote Walden, he kind of pictured the history itself.  


Corey Smith is the Youth Director at All Souls Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To learn more about our Children’s and Youth Religious Education, visit us at allsoulschurch.org.

Read more on BeyondBelief.online from the 2018 Boston Pilgrimage

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