Holy Moments in the Holy Land: Palmer and Eastern Attendees Reflect on their Trip to Israel

It’s hard to think of a more memorable way to ring in a new decade than waking up on the first day of 2020 in the Holy Land. This is the experience that attendees of the Palmer Theological Seminary Trip to Israel had this winter. 

The 14-day study tour included stops in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and more. Led by three biblical studies faculty members and attended by a group of 39 students, staff, and family members, the trip was a rich and meaningful experience for all involved.

 Here, a few attendees share some of their most impactful moments.

“As I still process this epic pilgrimage, I’d say the most impactful moment that currently comes to mind is the experience climbing the steps to the temple mount, walking through Hezekiah's tunnel, and praying at the Wailing/ Western Wall. These moments shed so much light on the nearness of the eternal koinonia/community of God and my place in it. As I climbed those steps, overlooked the city, burrowed through the wet tunnel, and prayed at the wall, I could feel the presence of the “great cloud of witnesses” described in Hebrews 12:1. I could hear their voices testify to the good news of salvation and God's sovereignty.”

Lori Banfield, MTS '15, DA '18
Eastern & Palmer Alumna

“As the pilot announced our approach into Tel Aviv, I leaned over to open my window shade and then I saw them… cities on hills. Lights filled the crests of hilltops everywhere I looked, with the space between each city and valley as dark as night. At that moment, the Word leapt off the pages of my Bible. This was what Jesus saw when He said those words! The history of God's people, our Lord's time on earth, and the lives of early century Christians sprang alive. At every subsequent location or historic site on our tour, my understanding and faith grew stronger.”

Erin Kincaid, MA '20
Eastern Student

“Perhaps the most moving experience for me occurred at Yardenit on the Jordan River. We witnessed a fellow Palmer student being baptized for the first time by two of our professors. Several members of our tour group renewed their baptisms that morning also. I saw the Spirit of God descending on those who were immersed in those waters. Some smiled, some shed silent tears, and some shouted for joy. But the hand, and approval, of God on each one was made evident. My spirit was truly touched that morning.”

Kevin Pope, MDIV '20
Palmer Student

“For me, the Palmer Study Tour to Israel was a return to a place I once called home. The tour illuminated my life as we experienced the land, its history, its people, and as we worshiped and read Scripture together. I visited new places and returned to familiar ones, rekindled precious relationships and began new ones, and I continue to experience the joy of memories which enlighten my heart and mind daily as I read Scripture, pray, worship, and work.”

Deborah Watson
Palmer Faculty

This article was originally featured in the Spring 2020 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.