They see spring break, they see France

Students venture to Taize for pilgrimage

By Caitlin Giddens

Spring break presents a time for most students to escape. But six Baylor students will embark on a true escape as they pilgrimage to Taize, France, to participate in a community of fellowship.

“Taize is a place where thousands of people make a Christian pilgrimage to pray and worship God,” Jared Slack, pastoral resident in worship at the Bobo Spiritual Life Center, said. “Hopefully students will walk away with a broader perspective of God’s people and worship.”

Taize is an ecumenical worshipping community in the Burgundy region of France. It was founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schutz and is now composed of 100 clergymen from various different Christian denominations.

“Because so many different denominations and languages are present in the worship community in Taize, people sing in French, German and English,” Slack said. “It shows how faith can transcend past language barriers.”

Slack will be joining the students, who come different majors and religious backgrounds, as they participate in personal prayer three times a day and join other visitors for meals. The students will tour the city of Paris the last two days of the trip.

“I’ve already tried to work on my personal connection with God,” Keller sophomore Tim Phillips said. “And I hope to come back from Taize even stronger in my faith.”

Since its founding 70 years ago, Taize has been one of the world’s most visited sites of Christian pilgrimage. Each year, more than 100,000 people from different Christian denominations immerse themselves in the community.

“When I heard about the trip, I was reading the book ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ where the main character makes a pilgrimage to India,” Wylie junior Maggie Emerson said. “So I was eager to take a trip that offered the chance to rest, meditate, think and let whatever needs to happen just happen.”

Slack said he hopes visiting Taize will encourage students to see beyond their own theological viewpoint and interact with other perspectives.

“Taize shows it is possible that we can all find peace and unity,” Slack said. “In a world looking for ways to divide us, religion can unite us.”

To record the sense of peace and unity the students experience while in Taize, they will be using a Flip video camera so everyone’s perspective is shown, Slack said.

As a student with a minor in religion, Emerson said she hopes this trip will help apply the open-mindedness she learned in the classroom.

“Because Taize is an international community, it’s important to have an open mind toward other religions,” Emerson said. “We’ll get to see how different people approach faith and worship, which will build on our own faith.”

While Slack has never made a pilgrimage to Taize before, the model of an open worship community has influenced his faith for years.

“When I was a sophomore in college, I went to a Taize-style service in Houston,” Slack said. “It was so impacting. Taize is a place where we can unite even though we’re different.”