Pilgrimage overview

JANUARY 16-27, 2023

Led by the Right Rev. Greg Rickel, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia

Dear Future Pilgrims!,

In June I led my 9th pilgrimage to the Holy Land.   I will be back in the land of the Holy One this October in my capacity as Chair of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem for our In-country board meeting and tour.   This January 2023 pilgrimage will be my 10th, and my last, as the Bishop of Olympia. I would love to have any of you, who have always wanted to join us, to do so!  

Our Christian tradition holds dear the practice of making pilgrimages as holy experiences of learning, conversion and transformation, and none is more significant than walking the paths of Jesus.

The pilgrimages I have led to the Holy Land have shaped my ministry and my understanding of what it means to follow Christ. I am excited to offer this opportunity to the diocese, and beyond, to journey with me next January, and hope that you may be able to join me in this next journey with Christ to these holy places.

This is a pilgrimage, purposely designed to be different than a tour or vacation; a pilgrimage offers a very particular opportunity to engage our sacred Scriptures contextually, and to learn more about the foundational stories of our faith. We also will engage people who call this special place home while exploring the realities of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. We will worship with our sisters and brothers in Christ in local Episcopal churches, and we will celebrate the Eucharist at holy sites that bear witness to Jesus’ ministry in those same places. Additionally, this year we are offering some additional sites in Jordan including Petra, a most amazing place that truly is one of the seven wonders of the world.  

To the first disciples in Galilee who were curious, or even longing for something more in their lives, Jesus says, “Come and see,” and we receive the same invitation even today, as followers of Christ. I invite you to journey with us and to “come and see’. 


  • Airfare (for details & restrictions, please download the brochure below)
  • All airport departure & passenger taxes
  • Hotel Accommodations
  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Entrance fees & local government taxes
  • Modern air-conditioned tour bus

Not Included

  • Single room supplement
  • Travel insurance
  • Any item of a personal nature
Download pdf brochure



Scheduled flights “economy class” from Seattle to Tel Aviv on United Airlines:
+DEPARTURE January 16 UA591 Seattle / Newark 12.08 pm / 8.30 pm
UA90 Newark / Tel Aviv 11.00 pm / 4.20 (Jan 17)
+RETURN January 26 UA91 Tel Aviv/ Newark 11.10 pm / 4.25 am (Jan 27)
UA 1339 Newark / Seattle 7.00 am / 9.59 am
(Please note the above flights and times are subject to change.)

+ All airport departure & passenger taxes (US & Israel).

En Suite accommodation at Christian pilgrim hotels & guest houses
+Galilee - Pilgerhaus (Benedictine guest house by the Sea of Galilee)
+Bethlehem - Sunrise (A recently opened hotel a short walk from Manger Square)
+Jerusalem - Gloria Hotel (Situated within the Old City, by Jaffa Gate)

+ Full board throughout (breakfast, lunch & dinner daily).
+ All entrance fees and local government taxes.
+ State licensed English speaking guides throughout the tour.
+ All touring in modern air-conditioned tour buses.


We meet late morning at Sea-Tac Airport to fly to Israel via Newark. Our international flight departs late at night, and we hope to be able to sleep well before our landing in Israel the next day.


We land in Tel Aviv the following afternoon, where we will be met by our guide and driver, who will take us to our beautiful pilgrim guest house on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, which will be our home for the next three nights.

Day 3: Wednesday, JANUARY 18

Our morning begins with a visit to the town in which the Good News begun – Nazareth, where Mary met the archangel Gabriel. We will celebrate the Eucharist in the Episcopal parish, and see its work ‘made flesh’ as we learn from the Rector about his ministry there. After a break for lunch, we will stop at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus performed his first ‘sign’, before closing our day at Mount Tabor, believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration. Return to our lakeside hotel in good time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.


Today we will devote ourselves to the events of Jesus’ ministry of healing and teaching around the home he chose in Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee. We will visit Capernaum itself, as well as sites associated with the Beatitudes, the commissioning of Peter, and the feeding of the Five Thousand. We will go out in a boat on the lake, and we will visit the newly-excavated First Century synagogue in Magdala, the home town of ‘the apostle to the apostles’, Mary Magdalene.


Leaving the beauty and tranquility of the Galilee, we will journey through the heart of the West Bank to the major Palestinian city of Nablus. We will see the work of St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, providing significant specialist medical care in the heart of the city, and visit Jacob’s Well, which was already a place of pilgrimage in the time of Jesus. After lunch we continue our journey south, stopping at the RiverJordan to renew our Baptismal Covenant, before coming to the ‘little town’ of Bethlehem, situated behind the 27 foot high Separation Wall, where we will sleep for the next two nights.

Day 6: SATURDAY, January 21

Today we will discover more insights into the story and the implications of the Incarnation, visiting the sites associated with the birth of Jesus and of the shepherds who came to greet him. We will also visit the St Vincent Creche where we can see love expressed in action at what is the only Christian orphanage in the Palestinian territories, and learn of its vital ministry for babies born in complex circumstances in today’s world.


Leaving Bethlehem after breakfast, we come to Jerusalem and join the congregation at St. George’s Episcopal Cathedral in East Jerusalem for Sunday worship. After the service we hope to have some time to greet the Archbishop or Dean and our sister and brother Episcopalians in this holy city. From St George’s we will visit the Western Wall and stop for lunch, before going to the Israel Museum. Here we will see a large model of Jerusalem at the time of Christ, and the Shrine of the Book, which recounts the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Our day will end with a visit to Ein Karem, believed to have been the home of the parents of John the Baptist, where we can sing Magnifcat in the place where Mary first gave voice to these words. From here we make our way to our hotel in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, which will be our home for the remainder of our pilgrimage.


Our morning begins with a visit to the city of Hebron, one of the most important Palestinian cities in the southern West Bank. Here we will visit the Tombs of the Patriarchs, and get a clear sense of the impact of the Occupation on the life of this historic place. Returning to Bethlehem we will visit the St. Vincent Crèche. After lunch we will visit Bethany before descending the Mount of Olives visiting the churches which celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, the giving of the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Finally we come to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Agony, where we recall Jesus’ betrayal and arrest.


This morning we will pick up the story of Jesus’ Passion with a visit to the churches on Mount Zion. After visiting the room of the Last Supper and the Abbey of the Dormition, we come to St. Peter in Gallicantu, believed to have been built on the site of the palace of the Jewish High Priest, where Jesus was imprisoned for the last night of his life. After lunch, we will have a tour to visit some of the nearby Israeli settlements south of Jerusalem, to encounter some of their inhabitants, and hear their perspective of some of the complex issues affecting the region today.


We make an early start this morning in the hope of being allowed to ascend the Temple Mount, to get a close look at the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. From here we come to St Anne’s church and the pools of Bethesda, after which we make our way to the Ecce Homo Convent, and after celebrating the Eucharist, we will make our way prayerfully along the Via Dolorosa, until we come to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and remember Christ’s death and burial. After lunch, for those who wish, there will be an optional visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.


Our final morning in the Holy Land starts with a visit to one of the sites associated with the story of the walk to Emmaus, where we will celebrated a final Eucharist together. After returning to Jerusalem, those who are extending their pilgrimage to visit Jordan will depart for the border crossing. Those returning home to the USA will have a free afternoon, until it is time to depart for a final dinner by the Mediterranean in Jaffa, and then the transfer to the airport for the late night flight home.


Landing in the early morning at Newark, we clear US Customs formalities before catching our connecting flight onwards to Seattle, where we land mid morning, ready to share with our family and friends all we have seen and learned in the Land of the Holy One.



Scheduled departure flights from Amman to Seattle on United Airlines:
+DEPARTURE January 30 UA91 Tel Aviv / Newark 11.10 pm / 4.25 am (Jan 31)
January 31 UA 1339 Newark / Seattle 7.00 am / 9.59 am
(Please note the flights and times are subject to change.)

+ All airport departure & passenger taxes (US & Jordan).

Hotels in Jordan
+Mövenpick Dead Sear Resort (a luxury spa resort on the shore of the Dead Sea)
+Mövenpick Petra (a five-star hotel only a very short walk from the entrance to the archaeological site)


After bidding goodbye to our fellow pilgrims returning to the United States, we leave Jerusalem for Jericho, where we will have lunch before crossing the border into the kingdom of Jordan over the Allenby Bridge. When we have cleared immigration and customs formalities, we will make our way to the town of Madaba and visit St George’s church, which contains the famous 6th-century mosaic map depicting Jerusalem as being the center of the world. From here we make the short drive to Mount Nebo, where we remember how Moses was allowed to gaze across the river to see, but not enter, the Promised Land. Finally we come to our hotel at the Dead Sea, to be our home for the next two nights.

Day 12: Friday, January 27

Our morning starts with a visit to the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in the city of Salt, slightly north of Amman. This remarkable institution of the Episcopal diocese provides education to both deaf and deaf-blind children in the region, and is a place of deep love and compassion. After this visit we will drive on to Jerash, a breathtaking Roman ruin, and explore the remains of this once prosperous city that was part of the Decapolis in Jesus’ lifetime. After lunch and a thorough guided tour of Jerash we return to our hotel at the Dead Sea and enjoy its facilities before having our dinner together.

Day 13: SATURDAY, January 28

Leaving our hotel after breakfast, we first visit the Jordanian side of the Baptismal Site on the River Jordan, before beginning our journey south to Petra. We will break for lunch by the medieval castle in Kerak, and then continue onwards to Petra, arriving in time for dinner


We will rise early to celebrate a Sunday Eucharist together, before having a full day to explore the unique archaeological site of Petra – the ‘rose red city half as old as time’. The morning will be filled with a guided tour that gently takes us down the Siq to get the famous first view of the Treasury, before continuing to explore the valley floor, filled with the ruins of this once great Nabatean city. After lunch, we have free time to explore on our own, and make our own way back to our hotel in time to freshen up and relax before dinner.


After breakfast, we retrace our steps back north towards Amman, stopping to visit the Schneller School run by the Episcopal Diocese, which serves around 270 impoverished children and their families. After a break for lunch, we recross the Allenby Bridge, and will enjoy a visit to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, before journeying west to the Mediterranean. We will have a final dinner by the Mediterranean in Jaffa, and then the transfer to the airport for the late night flight home.


Landing in the early morning at Newark, we clear US Customs formalities before catching our connecting flight onwards to Seattle, where we land mid morning, ready to share with our family and friends all we have seen and learned in the lands of the Bible.

Download pdf brochure