Like any vacation, a faith-based journey provides a chance to recharge and refuel. But traveling with members of your church with spiritual growth in mind provides an extra dimension. The fellowship experienced on a group getaway will be remembered and treasured for years to come.
For the congregation of a small-town church, it might be a weekend trip to the nearest big city. A visit to Chicago could include the Sky Chapel under the spire of the Chicago Temple, downtown’s First United Methodist Church, the tallest church building in the world. Wheaton College, a Christian school in suburban Chicago, is home to the Billy Graham Center Museum, which traces the history of evangelism in America.
Catholic groups have a wide choice of pilgrimage destinations, particularly major shrines that offers tours, meeting space and even overnight accommodations. Some of these shrines are described in our page 14 feature “20 Pilgrimage Sites Across the United States Worth Visiting.” Perhaps your group will want to visit or even plan a retreat at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, or the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Southern Illinois.
Speaking of retreats, even a short oneday program can do wonders for spiritual rejuvenation. In fact, the less time required to be away, the more likely people will come. Whatever the length of your retreat, organization is the key to maximizing its impact, writes Rachel Gilmore in “The Less is More Approach to Retreat Planning” (page 18). An authority on the subject, Rachel is the author of The Complete Leader’s Guide to Christian Retreats.
For dramatic effect, consider bringing your group to a religious theatrical production. In “The Bible Comes Alive at Top Religious Theaters” on page 6, we list eight options in the U.S., from lavish Sight & Sound spectacles staged in Branson, Missouri, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to NarroWay dinner theater in Fort Mill, South Carolina. For pageantry outdoors, take your group to The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, or Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, New York.
The most famous passion play in the world returns to Oberammergau, Germany, in 2020, and it’s not too early to reserve seats for your group as part of a tour to Central Europe. You’ll find answers to most of your questions about this once-a-decade event in our “Passion Play 2020” feature on page 10.
As many of you know, planning for travel is half the fun. With that in mind, we hope this eighth annual edition of Religious Travel Planning Guide, combined with our online resources, will inspire you to develop the best group trip ever and chart new paths for your community of faith.