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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    Perspectives: Journey through the Holy Land

    Journey through the Holy Land: An enriching experience for all

    February 6, 2018 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb / 7 Comments

    I was blessed to experience a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with 111 individuals connected to The Upper New York Conference. This experience was designed to provide an opportunity to deepen one’s spiritual life by walking the land where Jesus walked and seeing the accounts of Scripture come to life. It was also my hope that this travel experience would continue to strengthen and deepen relationships among people scattered across the Upper New York Conference and encourage others to experience pilgrimage travel and mission experiences together in the future.

    Our time together in the Holy Land was rich in every way. From the sights we visited, to the bus rides we took and the various tables we shared, the fellowship and conversation was deep. Watching individuals respond to what they were experiencing and finding times to share those thoughts and emotions with one another, were some of the greatest teaching and learning moments.

    This was my first time visiting the Holy Land and I found my mind and spirit responding in various ways. At times I was surprised at the differences I saw compared to what I had imagined as I read scripture. There were moments when the current topography got in the way. Discussing and learning more deeply about the contemporary issues surrounding this land caused me to struggle and at the same time offered a fresh perspective and new understanding. There were many moments when I simply found myself overwhelmed and I recognize that a trip like this will take awhile to digest and form within my heart, mind and spirit.

    People have been asking me what I was most moved by and while I find that question hard to answer with just one incidence or moment, our visit to the Mt. of Olives and the garden of Gethsemane stirred me. As I knelt and touched a piece of the rock that is similar or identical to the rock on which Jesus prayed, I was overcome with a renewed sense of the decision Jesus made to follow the path God had placed before Him.

    I struggle at times with a spirit of surrender to God’s plan for my life. In that moment I recognized just how easily it would have been for Jesus to slip back into the desert or call his followers to acts of rebellion, yet He chose to say yes to God’s will. I have shared many times that since coming to Upper New York, I frequently pray a prayer that goes like this: “Have your way, O God and if I’m in the way, move me!”  I prayed that prayer, touching that piece of rock in the Church of all Nations. It was different then and it has continued to be different. My hope is that it will continue to be different.

    I give thanks to God for the opportunity to have this experience. I am especially grateful to have been able to share it with Jodi and our youngest son, Ben. I do not take it for granted. Over the next few weeks, others who traveled on this journey will share their experiences and I hope you will read them with interest and allow the work of the Spirit in their lives to touch yours. Visiting the Holy Land is indeed a life-changing experience. If you have not the opportunity, I pray you will and I hope you will join me now in praying for peace within this holy land.

    Comments 7

    Bishop Webb, Thank u for sharing information about your Holy Land trip. It had been a desire of mine but never took the move to make it happen now that I am retired. I will indeed be looking for further opportunities within the conference to enjoy it as a reality. Many blessings for your inspiring, God lead leadership. Rev. Mary Guy

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 6, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I visited Holy Land in 1996 (60th birthday gift) organized via Educational Opportunity. It was two weeks trip covering many significant sites. It was truly worthwhile trip, emotional ,educational, and renewing faith. However, I always felt wanting to go back again with more time and leisurely which will allow deeper and wider learning and personal connection . Now, I am 82 (in fair physical state) and wondering if such opportunity exists.


    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 7, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you, Bishop Webb, for your inspiring words. I too took a trip to the Holy Land in March, 2017. The experience was greatly enriching to my faith and my understanding of the land where Jesus ministered and proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God. I too visited the overlook on top of the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. I was in awe of the view as I walked down the path between these two Biblical locations. So much history, so many people of faith waiting on that hillside for the hope of resurrection, who died believing that the Messiah will return to that holy location. I too struggle with what I learned about the historical and ongoing conflicts in the land, and I join you in praying for peace to all who live in the Holy Land. I look forward to reading the experiences shared by others who shared this experience with you.

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 8, 2018 at 7:02 am

    This must have been one of the most wonderful and inspirational moments of your life. It is one of the things I have wanted to do,in my life, that hasn't come to pass but sharing it with you and others is what God sent you there for.
    Thank you Bishop Webb for inspiring myself and others in our journey with the Lord.
    Lay Servant Sue Winne of the UMC of Schuyler Lake, NY

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 8, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Thank you
    Bishop for sharing your thoughts on such a moving experience. Bill & I have been fortunate to sponsor two trips to Israel [2012 & 2013] through Educational Opportunities. Each trip gave us new incites to our Lord & His ministry in that time, the people who live side by side today & the precious land itself. It is nothing like listening to the nightly news. With that experience, we have found new meaning to the declaration: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!"

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 8, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you Bishop Webb for sharing your thoughts on our pilgrimage. I felt so blessed that god provided me the opportunity to visit the holy land. I was in awe with the holy sites. I learned so much. It has deepened my relationship with god. Believe you me I am sharing every change I get.

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 9, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Thank You BishopWebb for sharing your journey to the Holy Land. I was priviledged to make this Journey with my husband Stan and our Pastor Bonnie Bates, in August of 2008. Reading my Bible has so much more meaning. It was truly an enriching experience. Again Thank You for leading so many folks and sharing in your blog.

    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 10, 2018 at 7:08 pm
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    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 867 local churches and 65 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."