A Pilgrimage That Led To Ordination

In celebration of Wonder Voyage’s 25th anniversary, we are sharing stories of people who have impacted us or been impacted by a pilgrimage with us. This story comes from Reverend Adelyn Tyler-Williams.

 

Adelyn traveled a lot as a child, but her trip with St. Martin in the Field Episcopal Church to England in 2011 was her first trip overseas. She was 15 and filled with a combination of nerves and excitement.

Before you went on pilgrimage, how did you answer the question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

At the time, I knew I wanted to do something that helped people. I’d thought about teaching or counseling. My life plans changed, and I gained clarity in part because of that trip. That is where I first felt the call to the priesthood. I couldn’t have told you that then, but I knew I was encountering the Holy Spirit in new ways. Another interesting retrospective– my ordination to the priesthood was almost precisely ten years after my pilgrimage.

Was your encounter a moment of wonder or something that took a while to process?

I had an ah-ha moment at St. Martin in the Field Trafalgar Square. They released a dove at the Peace, and I kept thinking, “I am home. I am home.” I couldn’t shake it, but I was confused. Was God telling me to move to England when I got older?

I can now say that church is my home. Spending time focused on my faith, being in groups exploring the Spirit, and worshiping are all my home. Now, being ordained and having the opportunity to follow my call, I feel more at home in myself and God than ever seemed possible. In retrospect, it makes sense, but at that moment, I was simply overwhelmed.

How did you figure out what your moment of wonder meant?

I am lucky I had folks back home that processed with me. I had Sunday School leaders and priests shepherd me and help me discern.

I asked questions, listened to stories, and celebrated my gifts! As I discerned, I think people felt that shift with me, and I was invited into more leadership at church. No one was super surprised, even if they wouldn’t have been able to articulate that call prior. I was well supported!

What was the journey like from verger to priest?

I sort of knew my direction, but nothing felt certain. I didn’t know the process yet, but I felt a pull towards being a priest. Being a verger was the most significant liturgical leadership role I could have, and I was graciously invited into it by Ruth Anne Tatum, who was the head verger. She gave me every support and lesson about the church she could offer. Now being ordained, my time as a verger and a sacristan in college are invaluable! I knew lots of the behind-the-scenes stuff before even going to seminary.

I have such respect for all the folks who make worship happen! Being a verger felt like a significant step of exploration and made for a solid foundation. A bonus is that the vergers I work with in ministry love that I was a verger in high school and college. It’s a great bonding thing, and clergy want vergers on their team!

How did the Wonder Voyage community support you beyond that initial trip?

On our pilgrimage, I experienced Molly as a person who lived her faith out loud. She is not shy about much of anything, including her faith. I found that new and refreshing. Molly moves in the Spirit and shares that with people lucky enough to know her.

Since my pilgrimage, she and I have stayed connected. Whenever we have been in each other’s respective cities, we have gotten together. The night before my first Sunday morning at my first call as a priest, Molly was near Fayetteville, AR and joined me for dinner. She brought me a communion set as a gift. It was one she had bought ten years prior in Canterbury when we were on pilgrimage together. I will forever cherish it! It felt so full circle!

 

If you have a story you want to share about your experience with Wonder Voyage, we’d love to hear it.

Jamie has been involved with Wonder Voyage for over 15 years. Her passion is connecting givers with worthwhile project as our Legacy Director.

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