LECSA’s annual Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (Leeto la Thapelo la Toka le Khotso) was held from 21-25 October 2019. Organised by LECSA’s Office of Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), this was the fifth year of the event. Three-hundred and seventeen pilgrims (317) made the journey from Modderpoort, South Africa to Morija, Lesotho over the course of five days. Among the pilgrims were former Prime Minister, Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili; the LECSA Moderator, Rev. Tšeliso Simeon Masemene; the LECSA Deputy Moderator, Rev. Jane Timothy Makakane; the LECSA Executive Secretary, Rev. Nelson Khethang Posholi; other members of the LECSA Executive Committee; as well as visitors from South Africa. It was the biggest turnout in the history of the Pilgrimage.
The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace was originally created in response to the World Council of Churches’ urging for Christian communities to advocate for Justice and Peace in response to the ongoing violence and oppression experienced by too many in the world. LECSA organised it to follow the route taken by the first missionaries in 1833, from Modderpoort to Morija, when they were welcomed to Lesotho by King Moshoeshoe I.
On Monday, 21 October the Pilgrims gathered at Maseru LECSA at 4:30am for a prayer service. Following the service, the Pilgrims travelled by bus to gather at Modderpoort. At 7:00am Rev. M. J. Sematlane from Berea LECSA, Chairperson of JPIC, made the opening address along with Rev. J. T. Makakane, the LECSA Deputy Moderator. Chief Makebe from Ha Fusi took his pace at the front of the procession as he has since 2015, leading the pilgrims on the entire five-day journey.
The Pilgrims were well cared for during the week: The hospitality of the parishes and communities along the way was truly remarkable. And representatives from JPIC brought water and snacks to the pilgrims each day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon – to sustain them as they walked.
The first day of the journey was the longest – the Pilgrims went from Modderpoort to Tsereoane LECSA, which included crossing the Mohokare (Caldeon) River upstream and having lunch at Ha Fusi. The second day of the journey was from Tsereoane to Phomolong LECSA with a lunch stop at Mokhethoaneng LECSA. The third day, they continued from Phomolong to Boqate LECSA for lunch, and then to Thaba-Bosiu LECSA, where a special communion service was held. The fourth day, they trekked from Thaba-Bosiu to Qhomane LECSA. This was the first year that Qhomane LECSA served as an overnight rest station for the pilgrims. That evening at Qhomane LECSA, a memorial service was held to honor the late Rev. S. L. Makhabane who served as pastor of the parish. The final day, the pilgrims walked from Qhomane LECSA to Morija, stopping for lunch at Matsieng LECSA. A brief prayer service was held at Morija LECSA upon the pilgrims’ arrival, followed by an awards ceremony where pilgrims who had participated for five years were recognised for their participation in the Pilgrimage.
The entire pilgrimage was intensely prayerful – prayers of gratitude, prayers for peace and prosperity, prayers for rain, and prayers for healing were lifted up by the pilgrims as they sang, danced, and encouraged each other along the way.
Saturday morning, 26 October, the Pilgrimages gathered for one last short trek where they walked together from Morija LECSA to the site of Leeto la Thapelo to begin the two-day service of prayer with the other LECSA members gathered there.
The LECSA Moderator, Rev. T. S. Masemene; the Executive Committee; and the members of JPIC – Rev. M. J. Sematlane, Chairperson; Adv. M. Nthunya, Deputy Chairperson; ‘Mé M. Phae, Secretary; ‘Mé N. Kokome, member; Ntate K. Kose, member; Moleli L. S. Mokati, member; and Rev. O. Moletsane, member – want to sincerely thank all of those who had a hand in making this year’s pilgrimage a success! JPIC looks forward to another record breaking turnout in 2020.