What is Emmaus?
The Walk to Emmaus is a spiritual renewal program intended to strengthen the local church through the development of Christian disciples and leaders. The program’s approach seriously considers the model of Christ’s servanthood and encourages Christ’s disciples to act in ways appropriate to being “a servant of all.”

The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with a 72-hour short course in Christianity, comprised of fifteen talks by lay and clergy on the themes of God’s grace, disciplines of Christian discipleship, and what it means to be the church. The course is wrapped in prayer and meditation, special times of worship and daily celebration of Holy Communion. The “Emmaus community,” made up of those who have attended an Emmaus weekend, support the 72-hour experience with a prayer vigil, by preparing and serving meals, and other acts of love and self-giving. The Emmaus Walk typically begins Thursday evening and concludes Sunday evening. Men and women attend separate weekends.

During and after the three days, Emmaus leaders encourage participants to meet regularly in small groups. The members of the small groups challenge and support one another in faithful living. Participants seek to Christianize their environments of family, job, and community through the ministry of their congregations. The three-day Emmaus experience and follow-up groups strengthen and renew Christian people as disciples of Jesus Christ and as active members of the body of Christ in mission to the world.

from What Is Emmaus? Copyright The Upper Room.

What is the History of the Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis?
The Walk to Emmaus is an adaptation of the Roman Catholic Cursillo (pronounced cur-SEE-o) Movement, which originated in Spain in 1949. Cursillo de Cristianidad means “little course in Christianity.” The original Cursillo leaders designed the program to empower persons to transform their living and working environments into Christian environments. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Episcopalians and Lutherans, along with several nondenominational groups, such as Tres Dias, began to offer Cursillo. In 1978, The Upper Room of the General Board of Discipleship adapted the program for a primarily Protestant audience and began to offer it under the name The Upper Room Cursillo. In 1981, The Upper Room made further adaptations and changed the name of the program to The Upper Room Walk to Emmaus. In 1984, The Upper Room developed a youth expression of Emmaus called Chrysalis.


—from What Is Emmaus? Copyright The Upper Room.

What is the meaning behind the name Walk to Emmaus?
The Walk to Emmaus® gets its name from the story in Luke 24:13-35, which provides the central image for the three-day experience and follow-up. Luke tells the story of that first Easter afternoon when the risen Christ appeared to the two disciples who were walking together along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Like Christians and churches who are blinded by preoccupation with their own immediate difficulties, these two disciples’ sadness and hopelessness seemed to prevent them from seeing God’s redemptive purpose in things that had happened.

And yet, the risen Christ “came near and went with them,” opening the disciples’ eyes to his presence and lighting the fire of God’s love in their hearts. As they walked to Emmaus, Jesus explained to them the meaning of all the scriptures concerning himself. When they arrived in Emmaus, Jesus “took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them,” and their eyes were opened. They recognized him as Jesus, the risen Lord, and they remembered how their hearts had burned within them as they talked with him on the road. Within the hour, the two disciples left Emmaus and returned immediately to their friends in Jerusalem. As they told stories about their encounters with the risen Lord, Jesus visited them again with a fresh awareness of his living presence.

However, the story of Jesus’ resurrection does not conclude with the disciples’ personal spiritual experiences. Jesus ascended to the Father, and the disciples became the body of the risen Christ through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were sent forth by the Spirit to bear witness to the good news of God in Jesus Christ. They learned to walk in the spirit of Jesus, to proclaim the gospel to a disbelieving world, and to persevere in grace through spiritual companionship with one another.

The Walk to Emmaus offers today’s disciples a parallel opportunity to rediscover Christ’s presence in their lives, to gain fresh understanding of God’s transforming grace, and to form friendships that foster faith and support spiritual maturity. While Emmaus provides a pathway to the mountaintop of God’s love, it also supports pilgrims’ return to the world in the power of the Spirit to share the love they have received with a hurtful and hurting world.

—from What Is Emmaus? Copyright The Upper Room.

What is the structure and organization of the Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis?
The Walk to Emmaus® is grounded theologically and institutionally in The Upper Room ministry unit of the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church.

However, The Walk to Emmaus is ecumenical. The program invites and involves the participation of Christians of many denominations. Emmaus is ecumenical not only because members of many denominations participate, but because Emmaus seeks to foster Christian unity and to reinforce the whole Christian community. This is one of the great strengths and joys of the Emmaus movement.

The fact that Emmaus is ecumenical does not mean it is theologically indifferent. On the contrary, The Walk to Emmaus is designed to communicate with confidence and depth the essentials of the Christian life, while accentuating those features that Christians have traditionally held in common.

The Upper Room Walk to Emmaus is a tightly designed event that is conducted with discipline according to a manual that is universally standard. Emmaus is offered only with the permission and under the guidelines of The Upper Room. This ensures a proven format and a common experience that should be trustworthy from weekend to weekend wherever Emmaus is being offered.

Each community is administered locally through its local Board of Directors. The program is administered globally through the International Emmaus office in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

—from The Upper Room Handbook on Emmaus, Copyright The Upper Room.

How can I attend an Emmaus or Chrysalis weekend?
To get involved in Emmaus, each person must have a sponsor who has already attended Emmaus him- or herself. If you have a friend who has been to Emmaus, ask your friend to tell you about his or her experience with the program. Your friend can help you decide whether or not you would find an Emmaus experience helpful.

If you don’t know anyone who has been to Emmaus, use the Emmaus Finder & Community Map to locate an Emmaus community in your area. You may search for an Emmaus community by name or location. Once you have found a nearby community, contact one of the community’s representatives and ask him or her to help you consider attending Emmaus and finding a sponsor.

How are Weekend Lay Directors selected?

The following methodology and criteria are used in Weekend Lay Director selection and is based in part on the 2017 Emmaus Ministries Community Manual Pages 53-55. Key officers on the Board of Directors strive to finalize selection of the event leaders (laity and clergy) at least one year prior to the planned event. The Team Selection Committee members are the Assistant Community Lay Director and off-going Community Lay Director. They are given an eligibility report on their request to the WV Emmaus Data Coordination Team. Criteria:

1. Served on a minimum of five local Emmaus teams in a variety of positions: Assistant Table Leader, Table Leader, Agape Team or Board Representative or Music Team, Assistant Lay Director at least two times and given the Priorities or Fourth Day talks, and one other Lay Person talk. Documented experience in other Emmaus Communities and Cursillo teams will be considered;

2. Must have teamed in the past two years as a local Emmaus Team member;

3. Been active and contribute to the local Emmaus Community (Gatherings, Activities, etc.);

4. Show evidence of spiritual maturity and is currently active in their local church, Emmaus Community, and a Group Reunion or accountability group;

5. Committed to leading the Walk according to Community’s covenant with The Upper Room Emmaus, and under the authority of the Board. Willing to serve as an integral member of a leadership team to include the Weekend Spiritual Director and Board Representative;

6. Able and called to commit their time to planning, team formation, execution, and follow-up; and

7. Is in good financial standing with the Community (both Nominee and Spouse). The Community Treasurer is able to view each member’s accounting. Candidates cannot exceed two teaming grants to be eligible.

Every attempt will be made by the Board to select a qualified individual who meets the above criteria and has not previously served. Considerations may be made if outside conditions make it challenging to meet in person to be active in the community. If a qualified candidate cannot be found, preference will be given to former Weekend Lay Directors who have remained active in the Community, continue to serve on a Team, and who are familiar with the current Weekend format. If a former Weekend Lay Director is chosen and serves, they will then be placed at the bottom of the eligibility listing until any other subsequent Weekend Lay Directors are no longer eligible or unable to commit to a weekend.

The Team Selection Committee (TSC) verifies the criteria above and shares the candidate list with the Board of Directors. After a review, the TSC reaches out to the pool of qualified candidates in eligibility time order. Once a candidate says yes, a discussion is held with the current Community Lay Director and Community Spiritual Director(s). The selection results stay with the Selection Team, Community Lay Director, Community Spiritual Director(s). The Board of Directors is informed as to the status of selection for the upcoming weekends.

How are Teams selected?

The following regarding Team Member selection is based in part and paraphrased from the 2017 Emmaus Ministries Community Manual: Team selection guidelines influence leadership development. Team Selection Committees (TSC) are to honor the principle of progressive servanthood as the way of developing spiritual leadership for Emmaus and the Christian community. Progressive servanthood requires keeping track of people’s team experiences and guiding their progression through responsibilities as background servants, Talk Room team members, and then as mature Christian team leaders. The selection process is based on prayer and spiritual discernment, not on personal preferences or need for recognition. The Community Spiritual Director(s) works closely with the event clergy team leader and the TSC in selecting clergy for the teams.

The TSC is typically made up of the Assistant CLD (ACLD), Prior CLD (PCLD), Community Spiritual Director (CSD), and two-to-three experienced Community Members. They are assisted by the Community Registars and Community Database Manager.

After a Weekend Lay Director (WLD) has been appointed, he or she is sent a letter from the Community Lay Director with an overview of the Team selection process. The first task is to guide in the identification and selection of a Weekend Spiritual Director (WSD) from a list that the TSC has prepared, and the Board of Directors has approved. The WLD prayerfully considers and reaches out to the candidate, allowing them to check and prioritize their schedule. Once they have committed, the WLD informs the TSC Chair. Shortly after, the WLD seeks out a Music Director so that person can check their schedule and reports the status to the TSC Chair.

The TSC prayerfully considers Weekend Board Representative (WBR) from a pool of qualified servants and makes a recommendation to the Board. The CLD appoints the WBR. The WBR is not in a position of leadership, but rather assists the WLD and the WSD as the core leadership of the weekend. The WBR helps to clarify processes, help with decisions, and reaches out to the Board on policy and logistic issues. They are encouraged to pray with and rely on each other.

After the prospective WLD is announced at the Closing, the TSC prepares a list of Assistant Lay Director (ALD), Assistant Spiritual Director (ASD), Weekend Agape Coordinator (WAC), general Community, and first-time Team candidates. The results are shared with the Board so they may provide insight into any of the candidates. The candidate lists are then sent to the WLD who typically follows a flow like this: Reach out to ALDs, first-time teaming, ASDs, WAC, Assistant Music Director, and then the remainder of the team to fill in the Talk Room and Agape Team roles. Most candidates are not asked to fill a specific role, only if they are willing to answer the call and are able to commit to the teaming schedule and Weekend Event. The WLD works closely with the WSD, WBR, and TSC to discuss the interactions and report on who has said, “Yes”.

The Team Leadership (WLD, WSD), others in leadership roles (ASD, ALD, MD), the WBR, and a TSC representative (if desired by the WLD) hold a meeting to discuss each candidate, make assignments based upon community leadership development, and assign the Weekend talks. The WLD typically sends letters or emails or makes a personal call to welcome all members to the Team. Specific roles and Talks are then made known during the first Team meeting.

What should I consider in deciding on my first Team?


We need you – Serving on a Team is a wonderful opportunity to continue to grow as a Christian leader. Many factors about serving on a Team need to be considered. Just as we say in the 4th Day Workshop, that Emmaus is not for everyone in our churches, serving on a Team is not for everyone in our Community as well. The mission of the Emmaus movement is to “Empower leaders to be the hands and feet of Christ” in their home church. We cannot replace that focus with Community involvement. Similarly, we cannot replace our 4th Day journey with Weekends. They are just one way to mature on our 4th Day walk with Christ.

Each weekend event results in more than twice as many new members of the community received as would be required for a future Team – multiply that by two events per year. Please be patient since you may not be selected right away. The committee responsible for selecting Team candidates earnestly tries to see that everyone that is interested has a turn, but it must work within certain guidelines. One of the guidelines is that about half of the members should have served on two or more Teams. In addition to the guidelines that the committee follows, there are factors you should consider.

The community uses a ‘Team Canon’ document that focuses on servant leadership, setting the collective attitude for the Team.  We enter into the Team without anticipating any specific assignment.  People are prayerfully considered and selected for specific positions. No one has the authority to promise or commit to a particular responsibility. Every candidate must be willing to serve in whatever capacity is needed.

If you are contacted and accept a Team appointment, you are making a significant commitment to be available for that weekend and approximately five to seven, six-hour long Team meetings over a ten-week period prior to the weekend. This is part of the Team formation where they learn about their specific position, receive training, practice, and critique the weekend talks, bond through prayer, practice the weekend songs, and engage with the Team clergy for Spiritual guidance. You agree to attend post-weekend activities, such as a meeting with the (former) Pilgrims and sustain a relationship with them as new Community members, and assisting (as needed) the next weekend with clean up after their weekend. Availability and sacrifice of time is a real requirement, and it will impact your personal and family’s schedule.

The joy of being on a Team is there, but the work and strain are there too. Team members routinely are the first up in the morning and the last in bed at night. Cheerfully working under pressure is routine as well. Everyone on a Team must carry his or her full load and be ready to pick up part of someone else’s work when something unexpected happens. Every Team member must be ready, willing, and able to share his or her faith and love with all others – Team and Pilgrim – on the weekend, at any time.

The joy and mountain top experiences are there, but so is the climbing, and so is the giving. If after prayerful consideration, you decide that being on a Team is not for you, there are many other areas of service in the Emmaus Community. You may want to put more effort in agape, sponsoring others, serve as a member on a committee, serve at your church for a Gathering, or do other important jobs that are necessary for a successful 4th Day Community and our Weekend experiences.

The underlying intent to the Emmaus movement is simple: Provide a unique experience to kindle a fire – and sustain that fire through follow on commitment to Jesus’ commandments: Love your God first above all else; and love your neighbor (paraphrased from Matthew 22:37-40). But the execution of the weekends and the 4th Day activities of the Community is very complex. There are guidelines that are being carried out by servants from four different states, and a great number and variety of churches. There is so much to be done that there is no limit to the opportunities to serve. Being on a Team may or may not be the best way that you can serve. If, after praying about it, your answer is “yes”, please fill out an application and submit it. Serving on a Team will be a blessing to you, and you will be a blessing to others.