The Freedom Ride is a mission trip run out of the Youth Ministry of Greenwood Forest Baptist Church, but it is also a pilgrimage for the whole community of faith.
The original Freedom Riders were laborers dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement who rode interstate buses into the segregated South in 1961. They were activists of multiple races, classes, faiths, and backgrounds dedicated to challenging Southern resistance to desegregation laws.
The Freedom Riders by the very existence of their diverse coalition in the South provoked violent reactions. Police frequently arrested the riders or subjected them to the violence of white mobs. Their dedication to the cause and the violence they suffered bolstered the credentials of the Civil Rights Movement and were pivotal in moving the United States toward Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s. Some notable Freedom Riders include Stokely Carmichael, John Lewis, and Diane Nash.
Since the original Freedom Rides, trips to the Deep South to visit sites of the Civil Rights Movement have taken their name. A Freedom Ride is a sort of pilgrimage, an important Christian spiritual practice. Christian pilgrimage throughout history have emphasized physical travel and presence at sites relevant to both the New Testament and the history of the faith. The function of pilgrimage as a spiritual discipline is to grow closer to God by visiting the places where we know God has been present and active in the world. The sites of the Civil Rights Movement are such places.
Part mission trip and part spiritual pilgrimage, the Freedom Ride connects deeply with Greenwood Forest's heritage. From spiritual pilgrimages to locations from New Mexico to Washington, DC to missions trips to locations from our own shores to Cuba, Greenwood Forest has a tradition of these experiences. They are vital to our lives as Christians because they remind us where we have been, where we are now, and what possibilities there are for the future. We also encounter God on pilgrimage, especially when we go on pilgrimage with our community.
We hope that the Freedom Ride can be a catalyst for renewal in your life and the life of our community of faith!
Rev. Spears-Newsome & Rev. Stacks