14 days from $3,500 + airfare
Take time to pray among the holy sites of this ancient land and worship with the people who call the land home today. This pilgrimage includes many of the sites on the Holy Land Sampler itinerary but at a more relaxed pace with ample time built in for worship, prayer, and reflection. To maximize opportunities for worship with local congregations, Thursday is the ideal departure day for this tour.
Day One: We depart from the United States on an afternoon flight. Overnight onboard.
Day Two: Upon arrival in Tel Aviv, our motorcoach will meet us for transport to Jerusalem. The afternoon will include free time for exploring the grounds of Tantur Ecumenical Institute, an orientation, and (time permitting) a driving tour of Jerusalem or a lecture on Christians in Palestine. We close the day with dinner and evening vespers. Overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Day Three: We blend old and new today as we visit the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field, reflecting on the mystery of Jesus’ birth. Following lunch we will visit an artisan cooperative and have the opportunity to purchase handmade gifts of olive wood, mother of pearl, and more. In the afternoon we visit either the Deheisha refugee camp or the International Center of Bethlehem, home to Diyar Academy for children and youth and Dar al-Kalima college. Pending his availability, we will meet with Lutheran pastor Rev. Mitri Raheb. Evening vespers, dinner, and overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Day Four: We begin the day with morning worship at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. The group may choose between an English or Arabic worship service. After worship, we will lunch with one of the clergy from the congregation, pending availability. In the afternoon, we visit the ruins of the ancient Temple built first by Solomon, rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah, expanded by Herod the Great, and destroyed by Rome in 70 CE. Led by an expert local Jewish guide, we will sit on the Southern Steps of the Temple and pray at the Western Wall. Evening vespers, dinner and overnight at Tantur.
Day Five: We begin early this morning with a visit to the Temple Mount, arriving ahead of the mid-day crowds. Later in the morning we tour the recently uncovered ruins in the City of David. Enjoy lunch in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City and free time to explore the marketplace on your own. Evening vespers, dinner and overnight at Tantur.
Day Six: We travel by motorcoach today to visit the mountaintop fortress of Masada with and expert Jewish guide. We will enjoy a picnic lunch before taking a dip in the Dead Sea where you will bob like a cork because of the high salinity. Following lunch we will visit the ruins of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were preserved for thousands of years. We will proceed by motorcoach to the city of Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Dinner and Overnight in Tiberias hotel.
Day Seven: Today we will explore Jesus’ adult ministry, beginning at the Mount of Beatitudes, taking a short walk through the Galilean countryside, and ending on the shores of the Sea of Galilee at the church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. After a lunch of St. Peter’s Fish, we will visit the ruins of ancient Capernaum, home of Simon Peter and site of a modern Franciscan church. We then visit a well-preserved 2,000-year-old fishing boat before setting sail on the Sea of Galilee in a modern vessel. Tonight you will have dinner on your own (included) in the city of Tiberias. Overnight in Tiberias hotel.
Day Eight: We travel by motorcoach to the town of Ibillin, near Nazareth, to connect with other “living stones” of the Holy Land. Pending his availability, we will visit with Melkite (Greek Catholic) Archbishop Elias Chacour at his Mar Elias Educational Institute. Return by motorcoach to Jerusalem. Following dinner, we will enjoy a lecture on ancient and modern Judaism in preparation for our upcoming experiences. Overnight at Tantur.
Day Nine: We begin the day with a visit to the Israel Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are part of the permanent collection. We will also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial to honor the millions of Jews and others killed in Europe during Nazi rule. We will return to Tantur for lunch and rest before attending a Shabbat service in the evening. Dinner and overnight at Tantur.
Day Ten: Today we explore the spirituality of the Desert Fathers with a morning visit to St. George’s monastery and a moderate hike through the Wadi Qelt, both in the Judean wilderness. Following lunch at the St. Geronimus monastery, we will proceed to the Jordan River baptismal site where we will share a service of worship with opportunities to renew our own baptismal vows. We return to Tantur in the late-afternoon for dinner and overnight.
Day Eleven: Today we travel by motorcoach to the Christian village of Zebabdeh to worship with Palestinian Christians and learn about their experiences. In the afternoon we return to Tantur for a time of sabbath rest. Dinner and overnight at Tantur.
Day Twelve: Today we begin to consider the last days of Jesus’ ministry. We begin this day with a walk down the Mount of Olives, traditional route of the Triumphal Entry. In the afternoon we will share together in worship and the Lord’s Supper at the site of the Upper Room where Jesus celebrated his last supper with his disciples and washed their feet. We will close the evening with a festive dinner at a nearby Bedouin restaurant. Overnight at Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Day Thirteen: We wrap up our time in Jerusalem by embarking upon the Via Dolorosa, marking the fourteen stations of the cross. While the Via Dolorosa is a Catholic tradition, Protestant pilgrims find it meaningful. Our day in Jerusalem will conclude at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The afternoon includes free time for exploring the Old City. Evening vespers, dinner, and overnight at Tantur.
Day Fourteen: Morning departure by motorcoach to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv. Return flight to your city of origin.