As DMin students come to the Austin Seminary campus during the month of January, many masters-level students departed for classrooms and hands-on learning environments throughout the country and around the world.


Day 1: Depart Austin

Day 2: Arrive Tel Aviv. Overnight in Galilee.

Day 3: Visit to Caesarea, the ancient Roman port city built by Herod the Great in 22BC, where you will view the Roman theatre, the Crusader walls and the aqueduct along the shores of the Mediterranean.  Continue to Muchraka, the location of Elijah’s altar commemorating his confrontation with the false prophets of Baal.  Travel along the Valley of Armageddon to the excavations of Tel Megiddo.  Continue to Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus.

Day 4: Board a wooden boat, a modern replica of the “Jesus boat” that was discovered years earlier on the shores of the lake, and cross the Sea of Galilee to Ginnosar.  Visit the museum which houses the original fisherman’s boat discovered in 1986 and view an excellent video presentation.  Continue to the Mount of Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) and Tabgha (Miracle of the Loaves and Fish) before visiting Capernaum, the city of Jesus and Peter.  End the day with a visit to Caesarea Phillipi and return to Galilee area.

Day 5: Depart for Yardenit, the Baptismal Center on the Jordan River.  Continue to the ancient Roman city of Beit Shean, an on-going archaeological site.  Drive along the Gilboa Mountain Range to Gideon’s Spring, named for the Old Testament prophet.  End the day with a visit of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, spending time at the milk grotto and the cave of St. Jerome before leaving the area and visit the herodian, the remains of King Herod’s palace.

Day 6: Visit the Garden Tomb where a prayer service will be held, followed by an orientation tour of Calvary.  Transfer to the Old city, entering through St. Stephen’s Gate.  See the Pool of Bethesda, the chapel of the Flagellation and the Ecce Homo Arch (Behold the Man).  View the Gabbatha pavement before proceeding to the Temple area and Mt. Moriah to visit the Western Wall and the Ophel Archaeological Park.  Walk through the Bazaar area to the final stations of the Via Dolorosa and enter the church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Day 7:  Drive to Mt. Scopus to view the Hebrew University before visiting the Mount of Olives.  Visit the chapel of the Ascension, Garden of Gethsemane, and the church of All Nations.  See the Kidron Valley and the Tomb of Absalom, Zechariah and James.  Continue to Mt. Zion, the Last supper Room and the Tomb of King David.

Temple Mount (Photo by Chris Dunn)

Lands of the Bible 

Austin Seminary hosted two travel seminars this month, Lands of the Bible, led by Professors Suzie Park and John Alsup, and Short- and Long-term Missions in Latin America, led by professor Gregory Cuéllar. The Lands of the Bible group departed for Israel on January 10. This course introduces students to the history and geography of the biblical period. The group is visiting sites and museums, attending lectures, and having readings. They will complete the course with a research paper. Twenty-nine people from the Austin Seminary community are participating in this travel seminar.

Students in the Jordan River (Photo courtesy of Jo Kretzler)

Day 8:  Depart Jerusalem for the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.  En route, visit Masada, the fortress built by Herod and the final stronghold of the Jewish Zealots who refused to surrender to the Romans.  Stop at Ein Gedi, now a national park, and biblically notable as the site where King David sought shelter from King Saul.  After a brief stop for lunch, enjoy an opportunity to float in the Dead Sea. Continue south into the Negev area where you will view various rock formation including Solomon’s Pillars reaching Eilat late afternoon for hotel check-in.  Dinner and overnight in Eilat.

Day 9:  Continue to Madaba, to view the Madaba Map.  It is the oldest surviving original cartographic depictions of the holy land and especially Jerusalem, dating to the 6th century AD.  Visit Mt. Nebo, from where Moses viewed the land of “milk and honey” providing a breathtaking view of the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea.  Continue to the ancient city of Jerash, known as the Pompeii of the Middle East.  This archaeological site is acknowledged as one of the best preserved Roman Provincial towns in the world.

Day 10: Departure for Petra.  Petra is considered the most famous and gorgeous site in Jordan and is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who settled in southern Jordan more than 2000 years ago.  Admired then for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels, Petra is now a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.  The Petra basin boasts over 800 individual monuments, including the famous Treasury, buildings, tombs, baths, funerary halls, temples, arched gateways, and colonnaded streets, that were mostly carved from the kaleidoscopic sandstone by the technical and artistic genius of its inhabitants.

Days 11/12: Travel. Return to Austin

Short-Term and Long-Term Missions in Latin America

Professor Gregory Cuéllar left for Guatamala, Chiapas, and Yucatan, Mexico, with a group of students to explore the different approaches to short-term and long-term mission work. The trip includes meetings with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission coworkers and with faith-based Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to learn about their work. Students are engaging with missionaries from other Christian denominations to explore differences in missiological philosophies and approaches. As part of the coursework, students have been blogging daily about their experiences.

Read Their Travel Blog Click here




  • Meet with PC(USA) Mission Co-workers and YAVs in Guatemala
  • Meet with other long-term missionaries in Guatemala (Johnson and Davis families)
  • Learn about Habitat for Humanity and meet with their local offices
  • Study short-term missionary approaches, participate in short-term mission project

Chiapas, Mexico:

  • Learn about Healing Waters work (ecumenical water ministry, locally based)
  • Visit Presbyterian Seminary in Berriozabal
  • Meet with missionaries/NGOs based in Chiapas
  • 1 day of ecotourism and visit to a colonial town

Yucatan, Mexico:

  • Visit Presbyterian seminary in Merida
  • Visit missionaries in Merida/Progreso
  • Participate in 2 service learning projects with local Catholic church (Casa de ancianos and soup-kitchen)
  • Explore Mayan Ruins and go sea-kayaking on an ecotourism excursion

Leaders in the Connectional Church

Students also traveled to the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky, to take part in Leaders in the Connectional Church with students from Columbia Theological Seminary, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Together they spent a week in cohort groups focusing on different areas of ministry and learning about the resources available through the PC(USA). Students took part in a mock General Assembly and other practical application exercises.


Other off-campus courses:

Seminarians: Sharing Our Faith Traditions Multi-Faith Workshop in New Braunfels, Texas with Whit Bodman

"From All Nations, To All Peoples” Overseas Ministries Study Center program in New Haven, CT