St George’s College Jerusalem has been offering pilgrims from around the world a unique experience of the biblical lands for more than 50 years, and its foundation dates back to 1920 when it was established as the Anglican theological college for Arab clergy in the Middle East.

These days there are many commercial companies offering pilgrimage services, as well as advocacy visits sponsored by activists from various political and religious perspectives.

We believe that St George’s College Jerusalem offers a comprehensive pilgrimage experience that is second to none.

Our premium educational and pilgrimage programs set us apart from commercial pilgrimage tour operators as well as the advocacy and solidarity visits offered by international NGOs.

In the following article we compare some of the features of various pilgrimage options.

A long term relationship with the communities in the Holy Land

In 2020 we celebrate 100 years since our establishment, and from the beginning we have served the local Anglican Arab communities in the Middle East, and especially in Jerusalem. We are a Palestinian Christian institution with a long term commitment to the communities that make up this diverse country.

The economics benefits of your program flow to our dedicated local Palestinian staff

We have no private owners or public shareholders seeking to profit from our activities. The College employs local Palestinians from both the Christian and Muslim communities. Even when the political and security situation has made our operations very difficult, we have maintained the employment of all our staff and, through them, supported an even larger circle of family members.

A close relationship with the local Anglican Church

SGC is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The College is located within the Cathedral Close a short distance north of the Damascus Gate, and we work closely with the Cathedral and its Pilgrim Guesthouse. The Dean of the College is a Canon of the Cathedral Church of St George, and our clergy serve within the Cathedral ministry team. Our programs include worship with local Palestinian churches in addition to the Cathedral services.

A rich liturgical experience

Ritual matters, and liturgies celebrate the deep significance of place, relationship, and sacred text. In our programs there are opportunities for personal and reflection, for the renewal of our Baptism commitments, and for worship in ancient churches as well as the open spaces of the land.

Dedicated facilities with high levels of comfort

The College operates from its own building within the Cathedral Close. The building offers excellent amenities for our pilgrims, with comfortable guest suites and attractive common areas. When away from the campus we choose accommodation that offers facilities that meet our personal goal to provide high levels of hospitality to guests.

High levels of personal safety and group security

Our location offers a secure environment for our programs, with a planning process for each program that explicitly assesses any risk factors that may impact on our schedule. The Cathedral Close has 24 hour seven day a week security services, and the College building has a set of CCTV cameras as well as a fully equipped emergency shelter. Our Liaison and Logistics Officer monitors local information networks for advance notice of any security events, and draws on his many years of experience as a logistics officer with the United Nations.

In-house catering services

The College employs our own world-class chef to provide high quality food with an authentic local style. We are able to respond to the dietary and medical needs of our guests when preparing food on campus, and we ensure that any external restaurants we may use are also able to accommodate such needs. Our chef will even offer free cooking classes for small group of pilgrims wishing to learn some of the secrets of the ‘Palestinian plate’.

Full board that covers all your meals

From the night before the first day of a College program until the morning after the program ends, we provide all your meals. There are no extra costs for lunches or other special meals. When dining at external restaurants and hotels alcoholic drinks and soft drinks are an additional charge, but we include water, coffee and/or tea.

Pastoral and spiritual support

Pilgrimage offers an exciting opportunity to explore the inner and external realities of our lives. There is much to learn, and sometimes also to un-learn. There is serious spiritual work to be done. Our programs include pastoral and spiritual support for those people wishing to reflect on the experience or seek individual support.

Input by world class scholars

College staff and visiting professors ensure that pilgrims on our programs have opportunities to engage critically with current scholarship as we explore the intersection of land and text. We look for the best people in their fields to enrich our programs and share their wisdom with our guests.

Selected local guides

For those times when local guides are needed, we select those we know to have expertise in the particular sites as well as a proven track record of offering consistent, high quality services in previous programs.

Privileged access to sites

Not all the significant historical and religious sites are accessible by individuals or commercial operators. As a long term local institution, St George’s College can offer privileged access to some places and a rich experience at almost every site. Our staff get to know the custodians of the different sites, and we guard our reputation with care. Prior to visiting a site there are opportunities to learn about the place, so that we come well prepared and better able to benefit from the privilege of the experience.

Engagement with local Jewish and Muslim communities

St George’s College is a place for encounter and reconciliation. We avoid a partisan involvement in the political conflicts of the land, while standing alongside people of goodwill from every religious community. We especially seek opportunities for our students to encounter representatives of the Druze, Jewish, Muslim and Samaritan communities, depending on the focus of particular programs. Our Sharing Perspectives programs offer opportunities for Jews and Christians, or Muslims and Christians, from other parts of the world to spend time together in the Holy Land.

A variety of programs for different needs and schedules

We offer programs of different duration, at various times of the year, and across a range of issues and themes. As its names suggests, the Introduction to the Bible Lands program is designed for those with less time for travel or a limited budget. Our most popular program is the Palestine of Jesus, that explores the land and content of Jesus through the lens of a chosen Gospel. Other programs include Abraham and his ChildrenBible and ArchaeologyEaster Fire!St Paul and the Early ChurchWays in the Wilderness, and Women of the Bible.

Scholarships and bursaries

We have some funds to assist people who would benefit from participating in one of our programs, but who lack the financial capacity to meet all the costs involved. We invite applications for assistance, and we also encourage alumni of the College to show their appreciation for their own time here by making a gift to help others do the same.

Academic credit and continuing education points

While we are not a formal college of advanced education, we do offer programs that can count for academic credit towards some College and University courses. Some continuing education programs will also allow points for programs completed at St George’s College, Jerusalem. The availability of credit varies from one program to another, and also between different international institutions. We can sometimes supplement regular programs with additional supervision or written assessment tasks to meet the accreditation requirements of overseas institutions. Please contact us if you would like to explore how a program with us might fit with your current studies at another institution.

This list is not exhaustive but we hope you find it helpful as you consider your plans for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. We would love to hear from you, and we look forward to welcoming you into the life of our diverse College community some time soon.

For further information about any of our programs, please visit our website or drop us an email.