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2023 marks the sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Geneva, Switzerland. US President Ulysses S. Grant laid the cornerstone of the Church, and today the parish serves the pastoral needs of an array of diplomats, businesspeople, and families from around the world.

It’s Rector (chief pastor), the Rev. Michael Rusk approached Fr. Nicholas about leading a group of congregants on pilgrimage to the Holy Lands. He also offered Emmanuel Church as a source of volunteers and meeting space for the upcoming 2024 JPB Global Citizens Leadership Institute in Geneva.

On October 2, 22 pilgrims met Fr. Nicholas and JPB Board Member Dr. Danna Kurtin in Jerusalem. With the Jewish Festival of Sukkot being celebrated, the Holy City was an exciting and crowded place. Highlights of the pilgrimage included visiting and praying at the Mount of Olives, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, SS. James’ Armenian Orthodox Cathedral, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, the Belvoir Castle of the Knights Hospitaller, the Mount of Transfiguration, the Churches of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee. On Sunday, 8 October, the group joined local Episcopalians for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at Christ Church in Nazareth.

The Hamas attacks and hostage-taking in southern Israel, and Israeli retaliatory attacks caused the pilgrimage to conclude five days early. Thanks to the help of Jordanian friends, the entire group was smoothly evacuated to Amman (Jordan) by way of the Sheikh Hussein Bridge. Despite having missed the climax of the pilgrimage which included visiting Caesarea Maratima, the Al-Aksa Complex, and the Way of the Cross, an extraordinary experience was had by all. Fernando and Maria Acosta ended their journey with these words, “We are grateful to God for every step we took during this amazing journey and for the wonderful people with whom we shared our travels. We pray to God for all the peoples of the region.”

Small World: JPB alumna Maya greets Dr. Kurtin and Fr. Nicholas in Nazareth

Pilgrims with Fr. Nael outside of Christ Church, Nazareth

Meeting with Palestinian Women’s Educator in Bethlehem (center left)


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