Twenty ordinands with the Louisiana Annual Conference traveled Jan. 11-20 with Bishop William W. Hutchinson and a group of United Methodists to the Holy Land.
The Louisiana Conference has initiated a tour of the Holy Land every other year, with our new ordinands as special guests. This experience enriches the ministry of new pastors during their time in ministry among us, and will enhance their spiritual journey of faith.
Each year during the annual conference session, a special collection is taken to assist with the cost of providing our ordinands with this tour to the Holy Land.
A number of our ordinands who traveled to the Holy Land with Bishop Hutchinson in January have written their impressions of the trip. They are as follows:
From the shores of Galilee to the heart of the old city of Jerusalem, our Holy Land adventure allowed us to experience the Living Christ in ways that will nourish our ministries for a lifetime. Life is a journey, not a destination. ~ Lane Cotton Winn
Walking in the steps of Jesus was truly a life-changing experience. It not only strengthened me personally, but I have no doubt it made me a stronger pastor. Thank you to all who provided the time and resources to make this trip possible! ~ John Robert Black
I believe my favorite site was the Sea of Galilee. As we sat in a large boat I could feel Jesus' presence in the total stillness of the water and the quiteness of the air. I could envision Jesus and his disciples sitting in a boat and a storm coming up. I could hear Him saying "Peace Be Still". ~ Rita Chiasson
What a great experience: seeing, hearing, touching, even smelling those places where our Lord worked and prayed, healed and served, died and rose again! This was a wonderful way to connect personally and concretely to the great story of God we have read in Scripture and I was honored to share this experience with my wife, colleagues, and bishop. ~ Daniel M. Hixon
It's difficult in a few words to summarize a powerful experience, and yet it isn't. When someone says "Capernaum," or "Bethlehem" or "Jordan," my mind is flooded with life-changing images. So, all one needs to say to me is "Jerusalem," and I can feel it. ~ Matt Rawle
What has stuck with me is the image of wilderness. Entering the narrative of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness will never be the same: the stark nothingness and the deep mystery of those barren hills and rocky ravines of Jericho, Qumran, and Masada are vivid and haunting. I understand now why we take to the wilderness to confront our demons and to find God. And such wilderness also reminds me why it is so necessary to have companions for the journey! ~ Shannon Sandifer
"Can you imagine standing in the spot where Jesus taught his Disciples? Well, I don't have to imagine it anymore. That moment is forever etched in my mind." ~ Clifton Conrad
What an experience; beautiful, exhilarating (especially the cable ride up to the highest mountain!); enlightening; spiritually uplifting, and just an adventure. ~ Dianne Wooden
The trip to the Holy Land has changed my ministry. When I read Scripture I see the places and I remember the experience of being in the land in which Jesus spent his life and where he ministered. Scripture comes alive for me in a different way as I imagine the land in which Jesus walked. ~ Kathy C. Fitzhugh
No longer will names like Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethlehem, Jericho, and Jerusalem be mere references on a biblical map. My pilgrimage to the Holy Land has enabled me to connect to these places and many more and my ministry will take on a new dimension because of my experiences. ~ Lewis Morris
The landscape of the country with the mountains, hills, valleys, waterways & population is a first impression and a lasting impression because it reminds me that Jesus walked some very difficult steps while he lived this physical life. ~ Eddie Carpenter
I have touched the place of Jesus' birth, walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee, renewed my baptism at the Jordon, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, experienced the darkness of the cell in the House of Caiaphas, climbed the steps to Golgotha, and celebrated Holy Communion at the Garden Tomb. I'll never be the same again. ~ Gloria Youngblood