Why do Christians go on pilgrimages? Several reasons. First, to enrich our imagination. When I first went to Israel, I spent a day sitting along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. I looked across the lake to the same brown hills that Jesus would have seen. The sun was warm, and there were two fishing boats with gray sails out on the water. All at once I could imagine Jesus standing in a fishing boat, a little way out on the lake, teaching the crowds on the shore and giving them hope. Now years later, remembering that scene helps my imagination live into the Gospel Story.
Second, pilgrimages remind us that God works in specific times and places. Christianity is not an abstract philosophy. It is a story about God bursting into people’s lives in specific times and in definite places. And changing history! I remember visiting the medieval Celtic monastery at Clonmacnoise, where St. Kieran founded a school that helped the Irish save civilization. Clonmacnoise taught thousands of Celtic people how to read and write, and it put them in touch with the Gospel Story. Going on pilgrimage to Clonmacnoise (six or eight times now) reminds me that God changes history though heroes like Kieran, in specific times and places.
Finally, pilgrimages remind us that Christian life is a journey. Often our lives seem random and without purpose. Taking time off, setting time apart to make a pilgrimage, actually moving from one place towards another – all these help us to remember that God’s time is an arrow, not an endless weary circle. Jesus is leading us through life to a definite goal, namely celebration forever in His presence. I have a friend who made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Millions have made that same journey on foot, over the last thousand years. My friend wrote a book about his pilgrimage, called The Way is Made By Walking. That long trek reminds Christians that life itself has a goal and a purpose. Every step counts!
-Dr. Les Fairfield
Celtic Christianity Pilgrimage with Dr. Les Fairfield July 8 - 18, 2017 (Full) Wait List Only
This incredible pilgrimage will explore Celtic Christianity’s journey from the arrival of St. Patrick to the sending off of missionaries to the world. Along the way we will experience dramatic coastlines, magnificent gardens, ancient castles and “thin places” of prayer and contemplation. This will be a spiritual pilgrimage as we stop along the way to worship and soak in the awe of God’s creation.
A Pilgrimage for the Soul: St. Cuthbert's Way in Scotland and Northern England July 9 - 19, 2017 Closed for Reservations
Journey across Scotland and Northern England by way of sacred pilgrimage routes, as well as some walking along The Cuthbert Way. These are the same walks which St. Cuthbert and other monastics took in their daily lives in the early days when Christianity was new to this country.
We begin in Edinburgh and continue to the Scottish Borders.We will explore the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, medieval Durham, Jarrow, and York, with visits to beautiful Gothic Cathedrals, historic Abbeys, Roman, and Viking Ruins, and majestic Castles. These sites will inspire us to walk in the way of disciples throughout history who have followed Jesus in establishing communities of mission, compassion, and education that have shaped Western civilization.
The Best of Scotland July 19 - 31, 2017 Closed for Reservations
During our tour, we’ll travel through centuries of history – from Neolithic standing stones to medieval castles to modern cities. We’ll marvel at the breathtaking scenery, from the Lowlands to the Highlands and everything in between. We’ll explore a rich heritage of faith – from the beginnings of Christianity in Scotland through the Reformation roots of Presbyterianism and to the living faith of the Church today. More than this, we’ll get to enjoy the hospitality of the Scottish people and the incredible warmth they have to offer.
Travels with Martin Luther: A Journey Through 500 Years (Berlin, Wittenberg, Erfurt, Dresden, Prague) September 15 - 24, 2017 Led by Dr. Arnold Klukas Closed for Reservations
2017 marks the 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed his famed 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church in 1517, which set off a series of events that would change the Christian Church forever, known now as the Reformation. Take this momentous anniversary to explore Luther’s life by visiting the very locations that impacted and influenced his work.
We start in Berlin and travel to Wittenberg to visit the formidable Castle Church itself. Guided through exhibits dedicated exclusively to Luther and his work, we will learn about his close colleagues and the major propagandist of the Reformation. Our pilgrimage continues to visit the picturesque Erfurt where Luther became an Augustinian Monk and where he was ordained, Wartburg Castle, and the “Florence on the Elbe”: Dresden. To finish our Pilgrimage we end in the culturally-rich cosmopolitan city of Prague. This is an opportunity not to be missed.
A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land with St. Francis Episcopal Church February 19 - March 1, 2018 Led by the Rev. Stuart Bates and the Rev. Dr. Peter Walker
This February, St. Francis Episcopal Church will begin the pilgrimage to the Holy Land to be near Christ and the land of his birth, life and ministry and where his death and resurrection changed the world. Joined by The Rev. Dr. Peter Walker, a New Testament professor, author and seasoned guide.