Holy Land Pilgrimage 2024 | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
May 2023

Holy Land Pilgrimage 2024

UPDATE: This pilgrimage is postponed until 2025 due to the ongoing conflicts in Israel. If you have already registered and have not requested a refund of your trip deposit, please contact Patrice Rullo.

Visiting the Holy Land provides infinite opportunities to deeply engage with scripture and walk in the same spaces where the footsteps of the great cloud of witnesses continue to echo. Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and other sites on this trip hosted incredible moments from the Bible – they also continue to exist, with a mixture of people and faiths that find themselves in tension or various states of conflict in the modern world. You are invited to deepen your discipleship by exploring the Holy Land with Young People’s Ministries.

The trip is designed for 18-35-year-old participants and is a unique way to explore the Holy Land. This trip will mix historical site visits with off-the-beaten-path experiences, as well as chances to interact with a wide variety of community leaders. Our experience onsite will be organized through a Bethlehem-based and tour-accredited company that specializes in custom experiences that go beyond a “get on the bus, get off the bus, get back on the bus” experience. While adventurous, this company also prioritizes safety and will monitor all activities and situations onsite.

An outline of our nine-day onsite itinerary is listed at the bottom of this page. Four days of our tour will be lead in a “dual narrative” style, which means that the tour will have two speaking guides, each of whom comes from a different cultural context. This will help paint a more complete picture of the issues facing Israelis and Palestinians today. This innovative approach to travel combined with devotional and reflection times led by Discipleship Ministries staff will help participants explore issues of systemic oppression abroad and at home, including exploration of racism and how spiritual formation can inform anti-racist discipleship practices. The timing of this trip should allow most university students to participate without missing a significant amount of classwork.

Registration includes all on-ground transportation during the itinerary in an air-conditioned bus, most meals, double-occupancy rooming accommodations, English-speaking tour guides, and admission/scheduled visit times for all sites requiring admission during the tour. Participants are responsible to arrange their own airline travel to and from Tel Aviv during windows of time provided by our trip organizers. Participants are also asked to consider donating tips for drivers, tour guides, and hotel onsite, as well as be responsible for up to five lunches for themselves while on the trip. Participants also must have a current, valid passport with at least six months remaining before its expiration date.

This trip is limited to no more than 50 people, because of the unique experiences arranged on the trip. Young people between the ages of 18-35 from around the world are welcome to apply. The tours and resources for the trip will be in the English language, so participants should be comfortable with a conversational level of English.

Registration per person is $2,099 on a first-come, first-served basis. If a participant would like a single room for the duration of the trip, that can be added at a cost of $600. A non-refundable deposit of $500 is due at the time of registration. Final payment is due October 31, 2023.

There are limited scholarships, in the amount of $599, are available for this trip. We welcome participants from around the world. Scholarship applications are due by July 31, 2023, and we will make invitations directly to those awarded scholarships to register and pay in August 2023. We can provide visa letters if you are from a country that requires a visa to travel to Israel, however, we cannot provide any financial support for obtaining visas. If awarded a scholarship, the cost to register for the trip would be $1,500. Click here to apply for a scholarship.

Participants should register for the trip and receive confirmation from trip organizers before arranging their own flights to Tel Aviv. Instructions will be given regarding what time frame to arrive at the Tel Aviv airport for transfers at that time. Participants then arrange their own international travel, with our tour group taking responsibility for you upon arrival in Tel Aviv. There will be several pre-trip meetings in the later months of 2023 and as well as some light pre-trip reading.

Itinerary (Subject to minor changes)

Day One: January 5, 2024, Tel Aviv

  • Flights arrive in Tel Aviv International Airport.
  • Transfer from the airport to your hotel in Tel Aviv.
  • Meet with your guides. Briefing and welcome dinner at Tel Aviv hotel.
  • Overnight in Tel Aviv

Day Two: January 6, Jerusalem

  • Drive then hike through part of Tel Gezer National Park, ending at Solomon’s Gate.
  • Drive to Jerusalem. Visit City of David, enter the Old City through the tunnel from City of David to the Old City, take a walking tour through the four quarters to get acquainted with this amazing place. (Part of our tour will be on the city wall ramparts.)
  • Dinner at hotel and processing time.
  • Overnight in Bethlehem

Day Three: January 7, Jerusalem

  • Dual-Narrative tour day with Palestinian and Jewish tour guides.
  • Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Dominus Flevit (The Lord Wept chapel), Church of All Nations.
  • Meet with a local rabbi and learn about Jewish traditions, conflict resolution, and get answers to any questions so far.
  • Western Wall Tunnels
  • Via Dolorosa towards the Holy Sepulcher, home to six Christian denominations and, according to tradition, the tomb of Jesus.
  • Dinner and processing time at hotel.
  • Overnight in Bethlehem

Day Four: January 8, Jerusalem

  • Walk to the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock to hear about Solomon’s Temple and the third holiest site for Muslims in the world.
  • Meet with a Muslim community leader, possibly an imam from Al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • Visit the Western Wall, learning about the significance of this wall to the Jewish people. Those who are interested may pray at the wall and insert their prayers in the crevices of the historic wall. Afterward visit the old steps on the south side of the Temple Mount.
  • Tour of the Garden Tomb and partake of Communion with our group.
  • Meet with Combatants for Peace (or another peacebuilding organization) bringing Israelis and Palestinians together.
  • Dinner at hotel followed by processing time
  • Overnight in Bethlehem

Day Five: January 9 Bethlehem, Qumran, Dead Sea and Jericho

  • Border Crossing by foot experience.
  • Church of the Nativity, Manger Square, and Shepherd’s Field.
  • Walk through refugee camp near Bethlehem
  • Visit the Walled Off Hotel and museum to learn stories of displaced Palestinians.
  • Visit Qumran, Dead sea
  • Overnight in Jericho

Day Six: January 10, Masada, Bethany, and Nazareth

  • Take a sunrise hike/cable car ride at the snake path at Masada
  • Walk through Ein Gedi National Park
  • Visit the traditional location of Jesus’s baptism by John at Bethany Beyond the Jordan Those who want may renew their baptismal vows may do so.
  • Dinner at hotel in Nazareth followed by processing time.
  • Overnight in Nazareth

Day Seven: January 11, Nazareth

  • Visit places connected with the First Family in Nazareth:
  • Mount of Precipice, Basilica of the Annunciation
  • Visit a first-century re-creation of Nazareth at Nazareth Village
  • Visit the market in Nazareth
  • Dinner at hotel followed by processing time
  • Overnight in Nazareth

Day Eight: January 12, Valley of the Doves, Magdala, Galilee

  • Hike a portion of the Jesus Trail, from Mount Arbel to Magdala
  • Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene and the Duc in Altum Chapel
  • Mount of Beatitudes
  • Visit Capernaum
  • Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee
  • Dinner at hotel followed by processing time.
  • Overnight in Nazareth

Day Nine: January 13, Ibillin, Caesara Maritima, Ramla, Jaffa

  • Meet with Elias Chacour, archbishop emeritus of the Greek Melkite Church and peace activist Caesarea Maritima (archaeological city built by Herod the Great and inhabited by many early Christians, including the apostle Paul)
  • “Open House” in Ramla
  • Closing Dinner
  • Departure for airport in Tel Aviv

*Most participants should schedule flights to return home late on January 13 or very early morning January 14. If your flight schedule is outside those times, please contact trip organizers for other departure options or support finding an additional night of lodging in Tel Aviv.

Day Ten: January 14, Back Home

  • Arrive in country of origin.