Walk to Jerusalem/Walk to Bethlehem

The Walk to Jerusalem and Walk to Bethlehem programs are both imaginary walks that “begin” at your current location and “end” in the Holy Land. The community calculates the distance in miles from your city to the chosen destination – for example, Chicago, Illinois to Jerusalem is approximately 6,200 miles. Each individual then tracks their steps for a set period of time and adds them to the community total, trying to walk from their community to Jerusalem/Bethlehem by Easter/Christmas.

Why this resource?

As church and community-wide programs, this program encourages walkers to increase physical activity, spiritual growth and cultural awareness through a virtual tour to Jerusalem or Bethlehem. This is a popular resource that has proven effective in various congregations and it allows for a great deal of flexibility and creativity, depending on the needs and ability of your community.

When should I do this program?

Typically, the Walk to Jerusalem begins in January and ends at Easter. The Walk to Bethlehem begins in September and ends at Christmas.

Who is the program for?

These programs are suitable for congregations of all sizes, and for participants of all ages. The resource booklet offers suggestions for incorporating different ages and abilities in the program, including preschoolers, elementary-aged children, teens, seniors and those in assisted living facilities.

Best practices:

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Northbrook, Illinois charted their trip to Bethlehem and the significant landmarks the group “visited” along the way noted through email communications, bulletin inserts and visual guides. Susan Marten, a member of the Caring Community Missional Team, wrote a blog-style recap of the journey each week to add to the cultural and educational component. She highlighted their tour stops in Washington D.C., admonished them to wear sunscreen in Bermuda, and taught them that Libya is the size of Alaska and 90 percent desert. Visual cues within the church highlighted the walk, such as sanctuary banners showing footprints and, during the transatlantic portion of the walk, an ocean scene. A star was hung during the Advent season and was moved a little each week to show progress to the final destination.

This resource includes:

  • History, overview and planning timeline for the program
  • Tools for the walk including sample prayer cards and sign up sheets
  • Ideas for motivating your community to participate
  • Tips for calculating and exploring your route
  • 12 weekly devotionals for the Walk to Bethlehem
  • 12 weekly devotionals for the Walk to Jerusalem
  • Cultural quizzes for the congregations about the places they visit


Name:              Walk to Jerusalem / Walk to Bethlehem

Created by:     Nancy Evans, RN, BA

Published by: St. John Providence Health System – Warren, MI

Date:               Originally published in 2003, updated 2008

Cost:                $35.00

To order:         Call 1-888-440-7325

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