What is the Walk to Emmaus?
The Walk To Emmaus is an ecumenical movement sponsored by the
Upper Room under the National Board of Discipleship of the
United Methodist Church. The 72-hour Emmaus weekend has been
described as a short course in Christianity. It enlivens people
to the reality of Christ's love and presence in a way that leads
the individual to greater action in witness for Christ. It is
designed to make Christ known in the world and equip the
participants with the tools and resources they need to keep the
freshness and enthusiasm received on the weekend.
The principal event of the
Emmaus movement is a three-day weekend spiritual life experience
designed to immerse the participants, called pilgrims, in the
love of God and bring fresh awareness of the essential teachings
of our Christian faith. Great care is taken to ensure the
message given is of moderate theology.
Walk to Emmaus and the Church.
The Walk To Emmaus
is a movement of the church. It is not an entry point into the
Christian life. Consider these three points:
1. The Emmaus Weekend is not
primarily an individual experience. It presupposes an operative
awareness of the Body of Christ. During the three-day weekend,
participants grow as individual Christians in their
understanding of the faith and their relationship to Christ -
but always in a context of a Christian community. Throughout,
the need to belong to a church and the need to be responsible to
that church is emphasized.
2. Emmaus operates with a
dynamic view of Christian leadership. It seeks primarily to find
and support Christian lay leadership in both the church and the
world. With respect to the world, it is hoped that these leaders
will influence the areas of their daily lives, their work, home,
recreation, etc. - for Christ. Participants may come to discover
their role in ministry as lay persons, with gifts to give and
the imperative to give them for the growth and health of their
Clergy are strongly encouraged to attend the Walk To Emmaus
weekend along with the lay persons. This provides the
opportunity to share common experiences and understand the lay
person's experience. Nothing has been found in recent years that
is more effective in re-energizing clergy and providing them
with renewed enthusiasm for their own ministry. Clergy who have
attended a Walk and who participate in Group Reunion may
also assist on other weekends as an Emmaus spiritual director or
spiritual team member. Everything that is done on an Emmaus
weekend is intended to strengthen and clarify what the church is
and how it carries out its Christ-ordained task. Pastoral
leadership is central.
Overview of the Weekend.
A Walk To Emmaus
weekend begins about 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening and concludes
about 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening. The typical day begins at 7:00
a.m. with a chapel meditation. After breakfast follows a series
of "talks" given both by lay and clergy leaders. After each talk
a period of discussion and sharing by small groups is provided.
This is where much of the lasting effect of Emmaus develops. The
same schedule holds after lunch and dinner. The day usually ends
about 10:00 p.m. There is ample time provided in each day for
"breathers" and casual sharing.
The whole weekend is rooted in
joy and prayer, and in a holy orientation that is both natural
and deepening. Each weekend has its own character, though each
is well planned before it comes together. Overall, the schedule
is demanding, though far from rigid, and each person is
important to the weekend, whether one of the leaders or one of
the pilgrims. Up to 26 pilgrims are accepted to each weekend
and they will be accompanied on the Walk by a similar number of
The talks presented on the
weekend do not present a comprehensive review of Christian
theology - even of the topics which are mentioned. They intend
to present only what is essential to Christian living in ways
which can be particularly meaningful to the participants.
It is clear from what has been
described that persons who cannot physically or emotionally give
themselves to the weekend probably should not make an
application. However, if you feel you need further clarification
or direction on the matter, please feel free to consult with the
Walk To Emmaus Spiritual Director.
Who Can Attend a Walk to Emmaus?
The following criteria are
recommended for selection of pilgrims for a Walk To Emmaus
1. Baptized Christian
2. Active in their church
3. At least 23 years-of-age
4. Emotionally stable
encourage couples to attend the same set of walks.
Applications are accepted on a first come basis.
Walk To Emmaus is intended for
persons who are active Christians, and who seek a deepening of
their Christian faith. Those who are already active or who seek
to become mature in their faith - who seek to integrate head,
heart, and hand in the worship and service of God through Jesus
Christ are proper candidates to make an Emmaus weekend. It is
NOT a replacement for conversion, training new Christians,
retreats, counseling, or grief therapy.
(When only one spouse desires
to make an Emmaus weekend and the other refuses, or where only
one spouse is baptized or is an actively committed Christian,
special care must be taken.)
Your Responsibility and the Pilgrim.
Even if you may not have
made a Walk To Emmaus, as a pilgrim's pastor you are an
important part of the Emmaus team.
SUPPORT. Please continue to pray for the person before, during,
and after the Emmaus weekend. Please include the Emmaus team in
your prayers as well. No Walk To Emmaus can be successful
without the prayers of many, many Christians.
2. AFTER THE WALK TO EMMAUS.
You may expect the person to return from his/her Walk To Emmaus
with a degree of excitement and discovery. The exact degree, of
course, depends on the individual. Your interest in the person
will be very important to his or her continued growth in faith.
We encourage you to talk with the person about their experience.
Your participant may also have an increased desire to learn
about the Scriptures. On the weekend, positive suggestions are
given for study. Your interest and desire to assist will help
guide their continuing study along lines that are consistent
with the basic Christian theology.
3. EMMAUS AND THE LAY
MINISTRY. We would like to think every person who has made a
Walk To Emmaus comes back raring to go to work in lay ministry.
Often they are and your lay person may become a useful resource
in your ministry in the church. But this is not always the case.
We encourage you to make suggestions to the individual; to
challenge them to make use of their gifts and enthusiasm in
concrete ways at the local level.
A Final Word.
The Walk To Emmaus was never
meant to be an alternate to church, or to be a para-church
organization, the "true" church within the church, NOR TO DRAW
ATTENTION TO ITSELF.
As an ordained minister of
Christ, we invite you to help us in the two-fold task of finding
those persons who may benefit from the Walk To Emmaus
experience, and assist us in integrating this tool into the
overall mission of the church.