Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar led a group of 43 clergy and laity on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from Feb. 10-20, 2020. The guest spiritual leader for this pilgrimage was Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, who serves the Pittsburgh Area.
Over the last few weeks, we have been sharing photos, videos and stories from the pilgrimage. The following is from days seven and eight of the journey.
Church of Saint Anne
The Church of St. Anne is located at the beginning of the Via Dolorosa, just inside Lions Gate. The Basilica grounds also include the ruins of the Byzantine and Crusader churches. It marks the traditional site of the home of Jesus' maternal grandparents. St. Anne's is known for its extraordinary acoustics.
Watch and listen as the pilgrims sing:
The Upper Room
Cenacle, also known as the "Upper Room," is at the site of David's Tomb in Jerusalem, and is traditionally the site of the Last Supper and the room in which the Holy Spirit alighted upon the 11 apostles after Pentecost. It is sometimes thought to be the place where the apostles stayed in Jerusalem.
Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu
Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu is a Roman Catholic church on Mount Zion, just outside the Old City of Jerusalem. Gallicantu is Latin for cock's-crow – referencing Peter's triple rejection of Jesus (Mark 14:30). This spot is the traditional location of the High Priest Caiaphas' palace.
Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned in the New Testament as part of the route from Jerusalem to Bethany – it is the traditional starting point of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11) marked by Palm Sunday. The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mount of Olives.
Preaching during the worship service at the Garden of Gethsemane, Bishop Devadhar described the location saying, “Friends, nearly two thousand years ago, it happened – right in this vicinity! Guides and scholars estimate it happened at the Rock that we saw in the Church of All Nations. As guides point out, some of the olive trees here go back to the time of Jesus. Friends – it is the Garden of Gethsemane.”
“Jesus knew what was going to happen in the next few hours, and being a person of prayer, he decided to go to the Garden of Gethsemane to be alone,” the bishop said.
Then he asked pilgrims: “Do we have a Gethsemane to go to for our own time of prayer and reflection?”
“As we look at the ministry of the saints of the church such as John and Charles Wesley, Mother Teresa, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and others, we see that they were people of strong prayer,” Bishop Devadhar said. “In my own journey, I can say that I have made it thus far only by the grace of God and my dependence on prayer. We all need places like the Garden of Gethsemane, a place where we can go free from cell phones, WhatsApp messages, and other interruptions in order to find a place to be in communion with our Creator God.”
“Clergy and laity alike, do we communicate with God on a regular basis?”
Read Bishop Devadhar’s sermon Where is Our Garden of Gethsemane?
The Via Dolorosa (in Latin "Way of Grief") is a street within the Old City of Jerusalem believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion (see photos in the gallery at right). It includes nine Stations of the Cross (see below); five stations are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
- Pilate condemns Jesus to die
- Jesus accepts his cross
- Jesus falls for the first time
- Jesus meets his mother, Mary
- Simon helps carry the cross
- Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
- Jesus falls for the second time
- Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
- Jesus falls for the third time
- Jesus is stripped of his clothes
- Jesus is nailed to the cross
- Jesus dies on the cross
- Jesus is taken down from the cross
- Jesus is placed in the tomb
This church, marking what many believe is the location of the crucifixion, is at the heart of the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem. The current old city walls date to the 16th century; in the time of Jesus, this location lay outside the city walls. The Jews would not place a cemetery inside the walls. For the Romans, it was a highly visible spot near the Garden Gate exit. Constantine built the first church on this spot (completed in 335). It was destroyed by fire. The current church was completed in 1170.
The Western Wall encases the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, and a holy site for Muslims as well. The Temple Mount or Mount Moriah is the site where God told Abraham to bring Isaac (Genesis 22:1–14
) and where temples were built by Solomon (2 Chronicles 3:1
), Zerubbabel and Herod.
It is believed Jesus would often teach on these steps at the southern end of the Temple Mount when he was in Jerusalem. Pilgrims took time for silent contemplation here.
The pilgrims ended the day with worship at the Garden Tomb. It is one of two possible sites for Christ's tomb – the other is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (see above). Women led the service: Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson, Assistant to the Bishop/Director of Connectional Ministries, and Rev. Jill Colley Robinson, Vermont District Superintendent, who wrote the liturgy.
Listen to an excerpt from Bishop Moore-Koikoi's sermon: