Taizé: Where young adults connect with divine rhythms

By Chris Wilterdink

Jools hamilton
Julian Hamilton

Julian (Jools) Hamilton is a Methodist minister, currently working as student chaplain to Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. He cares deeply about God, his work, and helping young people experience the world in a way that shines some light on how they can be in relationship with God.

“I’ve always been fortunate enough to travel,” Hamilton said, “and I have seen my spiritual growth and connection with God both strengthened and challenged because of what I have experienced away from home.”

Hamilton and I made a connection in early 2019, through some mutual friends serving on the European Methodist Youth and Children’s Council. I had learned about a vision he had, to gather young people who follow Methodist and Wesleyan expressions, at the Monastery of Taizé, France so that they could share in the transformative experiences of intentional community that have fed his vision for ministry.

“I wish everyone in the world could get to Taizé. On paper, you look at it, at what they do, and it shouldn’t work. But it does,” Hamilton said.

This out-of-the-way fellowship of monks generates worship and prayer practices that are now shared by communities around the globe.

“Their focus on simplicity and intentional community is contagious. The routine that one finds for themselves during a week in this setting gets one not only closer to God, but closer to their peers as well,” Hamilton said.

Taizé offers its experience specifically for young adults, encouraging those who are under 30 years of age to discover what it means to bring spiritual intention into their lives. I have yet to step foot on the grounds of Taizé and experience it for myself. Though I just booked my plane ticket and am excited to share in the experience with thousands of young people this coming August.

“I’ve always been fortunate enough to travel, and I have seen my spiritual growth and connection with God both strengthened and challenged because of what I have experienced away from home.”

From August 2-9, 2020, Hamilton and a group of planners are creating a “Wesley Week” at Taizé. This week will allow young people to participate fully in the week of worship and prayer practices that the monastery is famous for, plus make global friendships and experience additional opportunities to engage in spiritual practices that specifically come from the Wesleyan tradition. There are already young people from Australia, Ireland, Germany, the United States, and several other countries committed to come for the experience. Because of a grant from the European Methodist Youth and Children’s Council, the cost for the experience is quite affordable. Participants must pay a 22 Euro (about $25 USD) registration fee to YouthSpirit (Hamilton’s organization) and then be prepared to pay between 88-120 Euro ($100-$140) directly to the monastery upon arrival. That cost is food and lodging, plus programming, for the entire week.

“The hunger for spiritual growth is there, and the setting of Taizé will be the perfect place for young people from around the globe to gather, learn, fellowship, worship, and pray,” Hamilton said.

Young People’s Ministries, sharing Youthspirit’s values of global connection and spiritual development with young people, is supporting participants by providing a free bus from the Lyon Airport to Taizé for the week. In order to have a seat, RSVP here by February 29. Additional details about the trip can be found here, including how to register directly with Youthspirit and begin planning your trip.

This experience would be a prefect pilgrimage for an individual, or a group of young adults from a local church, campus ministry, Wesley Foundation, or camp connection. Participants need to book their own travel. They must arrive in Taizé by dinner time on August 2 and depart no earlier than August 9. Carl Gladstone and Rori Francis Blakeney are supporting and coordinating the free bus ride (sponsored by Young People’s Ministries/Discipleship Ministries) from Lyon to Taizé.

I (Chris Wilterdink) will get to lead Wesleyan spiritual practice sessions along with Hamilton, and some other amazing folks from our global connection, including Barry Sloan (Germany), Maria Thaarup (Denmark), and Damien Carruthers (Germany).

I am excited to see the impact of the 2020 Wesley Week. This is the first year that the event will take place. I am also thankful for the connections and partnerships that Young People’s Ministries, Youthspirit, and the European Methodist Youth and Children’s Council have been able to enjoy. Opportunities like the Wesley Week happen because of shared vision and excitement for the spiritual lives of young people.

Questions? Chris Wilterdink ([email protected])