Jeff Kemmerer wants you to know that he’s no Biblical scholar, and when it comes to the scriptures, he probably has many more questions than answers.
“Actually, I am more comfortable discussing chemistry or nuclear physics than I am the Scriptures,” he says when asked about his pilgrimage blog, which will run January 25 until February 9. “My biggest contribution is probably my perspective of the world. I have friends throughout the world, so world news is very personal to me.”
When contacted one day recently, he already had spoken or emailed with folks in the Netherlands, France, Poland, Sweden, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, India, Serbia and Australia. And the day wasn’t nearly over.
Kemmerer is a chemical engineer by training (Lehigh University) and is currently Global Product Manager at PANalytical B.V., a Dutch company. He is a cradle Episcopalian and was baptized at the church he still attends, Grace Episcopal Church, Allentown, more than 60 years ago. He sang on the choir there for 20-plus years, served as an acolyte, and has served several terms on the vestry. He and his wife, Penny, have two children and three grandchildren.
Kemmerer, whose company makes and supplies analytical instruments to a world-wide market, is responsible for an instrument that is used in the cement, lime, copper, iron, nickel and coal industries. Technically, his office is in the Netherlands, near the German border, and the company’s factory is in Paris. The upshot: he travels. A lot.
“I travel a good bit, mainly in the Americas and Europe and several times a year to Asia or Oceania,” he says. “I have written many technical papers and articles, however, the Pilgrimage and the road to Lent are a bit out of my comfort zone.”
Kemmerer says the Rev. Anne E. Kitch, the diocese’s canon for ministry formation and transitions, asked him to participate in the blog, “and I reluctantly agreed.”
He has been following Kitch’s blog for several years and says her Lent and Advent reflections “have been a touchstone for me,” particularly during his travels.
“What Anne Kitch does so well, she weaves her morning prayers into her daily life, and she does it so brilliantly. I’m going to look at what I can bring to the pilgrimage and focus on that.”
Part of what he brings, he says, is an international, multicultural perspective. He’ll be in China the week before he stars blogging, so that may work its way into his posts.
“My perspective, which was formed over literally thousands and thousands of miles of travel, is that once we get beyond the superficial differences, we are far more alike than different,” Kemmerer says. “
While he never has been on a pilgrimage, Kemmerer witnessed one while on a business trip to Mexico in December. Every year thousands of pilgrims— los peregrinos—make the pilgrimage across Mexico to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in northern Mexico City.
“I got a chance to talk to some of them,” Kemmerer says. “There were thousands of them coming across Mexico by bike, walking, by relay running. Some of them were going in supplication, some in thanksgiving, some were just walking their faith. They all start from their home parishes and converge on the Festival de Guadalupe. When they return to their homes, some of them have a fire burning on the back of their truck–carrying the fire from the Basilica back to their home parishes. It was an interesting coincidence that I was there at that time.”
Kemmerer is looking forward to writing his pilgrimage blog. All the same, “I must confess to more than a little trepidation on this adventure, but I have always found stretching to be good for the soul.”
Join with fellow peregrinos on his journey by following the blog online.