What is Emmaus?

For the Development of Christian Leaders

A Journey with Christ

The Gospel of Luke relates how the risen Christ appeared to two friends on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus after the Resurrection. The men were walking together, sharing their hearts’ deepest concerns and sorrows. The risen Christ joined them, and explained the scriptures as they walked — how it was ordained that He should suffer and so enter His glory. Although they did not recognize Him, His words were heart-warming to the men as they walked and talked with Him. The illuminating climax came that night during a meal, when Christ took bread and blessed it, then broke it and gave it to them — the men’s eyes were opened in that moment and they recognized Him as the risen Christ. Although He immediately vanished from their sight, they rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples of their experience on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

The “Walk to Emmaus”

The above story provides the image for the Walk to Emmaus, an Upper Room program that calls forth and renews Christian discipleship. Like its predecessor, Cursillo de Christianidad (Spanish for “Short Course in Christianity”), the Walk to Emmaus is a three-day experience that takes a New Testament look at Christianity as a lifestyle. It is a highly structured weekend designed to strengthen and renew the faith of Christian people, and through them their families, congregations and the world in which they live. Emmaus is a combined effort of laity and clergy toward the renewal of the church.

Originating in Spain in the late 1940’s, Cursillo moved to America in the late 1950’s. It was primarily a Roman Catholic movement until the 1970’s. As Catholic centers started accepting applications from Protestants, efforts began among some groups to make the Cursillo experience available to all Protestants. In the late 1970’s, The Upper Room (a unit of the Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church) formed The Upper Room Cursillo Community in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1981, by mutual agreement between the National Secretariat of the Roman Catholic Cursillo movement and The Upper Room, the name of the Nashville Protestant community was changed to Upper Room Emmaus. The Emmaus movement is ecumenical and open to members of any denomination.

The purpose of the Walk

The Walk to Emmaus focuses on God as known through Jesus Christ, and on the expression of that awareness in the local church. The Emmaus experience is intended to inspire, challenge, and equip local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches, and places of work. Emmaus lifts up a way for our grace-filled life to be lived and shared with others.

What happens during the Walk?

The Walk to Emmaus is a 72-hour experience. The weekend begins on Thursday evening and ends Sunday evening. During the Walk, you will spend three busy, but very enjoyable days at a retreat center. You will live and study together with other like-minded “pilgrims” in song, prayer, worship, and discussion. Discussions will center around 15 talks given by clergy and laity. These talks present various aspects of God’s grace, and they convey how that grace comes alive in the Christian community and is expressed in the world.

You’ll also discover how God’s grace is real in your life, and how you can live a life of grace, bringing that gift to others. You will have the opportunity to participate in the daily celebration of Holy Communion… to understand more fully the presence of Christ in his body of believers… and to experience God’s grace personally through the prayers and acts of service of a loving support community.

What happens after your Walk?

One of the primary strengths of the Walk to Emmaus is follow-up. Your weekend comprises three days, but you are invited to build upon it for the rest of your life. Those who attend a Walk are encouraged to do two things following their weekend:

1. Expand their own spiritual lives through study and congregational participation;
2. Become more active disciples of Christ in the world through their home churches.

To nurture this process of discipleship, the Emmaus movement offers specific post-Walk opportunities:

  • First, reunion groups of 4-6 people meet weekly to reflect on their quest for spiritual growth and to encourage one another in discipleship.
  • Second, through monthly meetings called Community Gatherings, all in the metro Richmond area who have Walked are invited for fellowship, worship, and informal instruction.
  • Third, members are made aware of support needs for upcoming Walks and the various means of meeting them.

Who should take the Walk to Emmaus?

The Emmaus movement is designed to develop Christian leaders who:

  • wish to strengthen their spiritual lives;
  • may have unanswered questions about prayer, study, and sharing of their faith;
  • understand that being a Christian involves responsibility;
  • are willing to dedicate their everyday lives to God in an ongoing manner;
  • have positions of responsibility in the church and the world.

(NOTE:  The Walk to Emmaus is neither designed nor intended as an evangelistic tool, nor is it a substitute for worship and mentorship in a local church community. Only those men and women who have clearly accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior should be sponsored as pilgrims on a Walk to Emmaus.)

Are you interested?

We invite you to join in a refreshing weekend in which you will meet Jesus through the acts and testimonies of other Christians. For more information on our schedule of upcoming Walks, please go to our Upcoming Events page.