A Pilgrimage of Discovery

Materials for the Report to the Congregation, November 4, 2018


Grace Presbyterian Church hosted a trip to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan in the fall of 2018. Family and friends from other churches across the country joined Grace members to create a travel group of 21. Susan Wilder led the group, with able assistance from Kathy Drinkard and Ben Trawick.

The trip was called "A Pilgrimage of Discovery" and involved a multifaceted set of "discoveries." The group engaged in four major activities:

1) Reconnecting with our partner church in Nablus, Palestine, and with Father Ibrahim, who is now at a church in Zarqa, Jordan

On the first two nights of the trip, the group stayed in the homes of church members. They also attended worship on Sunday, September 30, at The Church of the Good Shepherd, the Rafidia satellite of the St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Nablus. The Grace members offered as gifts some pieces from the Grace congregation's communion set and a calendar of D.C. photos taken by Alan Goldstein. The Nablus congregation gave the Grace church a beautiful embroidery of the Lord's prayer.

On October 7, the group worshiped with Father Ibrahim, the previous pastor at the Nablus church, in his new church in Jordan. The congregation was having a Thanksgiving-style service and provided a reception for the group afterwards.


2) Visiting holy sites

The travelers experienced the holy sites in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, exploring how each site was portrayed scripturally and reflecting on its personal spiritual significance. They visited:

  • Jacob’s Well
  • Capernaum Synagogue and Peter’s house
  • Sea of Galilee ( “Jesus Boat”)
  • Church of the Multiplication
  • Church of the Beatitudes
  • Zacchaeus tree
  • Mount of Temptation
  • Western Wall
  • Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount
  • Church of St. Anne
  • Via Dolorosa (The Stations of the Cross)
  • Church of the Holy Sepulcher
  • Tombs of the Patriarchs/Cave of Machpelah,
  • Mount of Olives
  • Garden of Gethsemane
  • Church of Dominus Flevit
  • Church of All Nations
  • The Church of the Nativity
  • Jordan River (Bethany the Baptismal site)
  • Mt. Nebo
  • Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George (Madaba)


3) Exploring the Israel-Palestine conflict

A major purpose of the trip was to obtain a better understanding of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The group met with officials, organizations, and individuals who address the conflict from their own perspectives. The group also experienced restrictions common to the Palestinians, including water limitations, checkpoint searches, and segregated road access. The people and places visited included:

  • Luke’s Hospital
  • Mar Elias High School, Ibillin
  • Doug Dicks (Presbyterian Representative)
  • Christian Peacemaker Team
  • Issa Amro of Youth Against Settlements
  • Ephrata Settlement
  • Tent of Nations
  • Diyar Consortium/Dar al-Kalima University College
  • Bethlehem Mayor
  • Jerusalem tour with an Israeli Guide
  • Aida Refugee Camp
  • The Separation Wall
  • Checkpoints
  • Restricted roads


4) Discovering Jordan

Although the church had sponsored trips to Israel-Palestine in the past, it had not included Jordan before this trip. The group explored holy sites (mentioned above) in Jordan, as well as:

  • These cities: Amman, Zarqa, Kerak, Petra, Jerash
  • These historical sites: Um er-Rasas, Kerak Castle, Shoubak Castle, Petra, Wadi Rum, Jerash