The Walk to Emmaus is a program offering of The Upper Room, a section of the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church. In the truest sense of the word, it is a spiritual renewal movement because it is dependent upon each generation of participants to pass the enthusiasm on to the next.
The origins of the Walk to Emmaus were greatly influenced by the Roman Catholic monastery in Spain in 1948 out of a desire by some to find spiritual renewal. The first Cursillo weekend held in the United States was in Waco, Texas in 1957. Two Spanish airmen, who were in the country for flight training, and a priest from Spain, were responsible for putting on the first American Cursillo. The Upper Room’s first two weekends of the Walk to Emmaus were held in Peoria, Illinois, in April and May 1977 under guidance of the Peoria Diocese Cursillo Movement.
The national office for the Emmaus Movement is maintained in Nashville by the Upper Room. A steering committee was formed and the committee’s first meeting was held on August 16, 1991 and plans were soon made for the first Southside Walks. Historically in Southside men’s walk are odd numbered and women’s even numbered.
The first Walk to Emmaus of Southside was held May 28 – 31, 1992, SSE 1, for the men with team members from the Richmond Community. The first women’s walk SS#2 was held June 18-21, 1992. This community holds 2 walks in the spring and 2 in the fall. The walks were held at VUMAC (Virginia United Methodist Conference Center) in Blackstone, Virginia by Southside and the Richmond Communities until the facility was sold in May 2016. Southside held 2 walks at the 4H Center in Wakefield. We then found and have contracted with the Virginia Nazarene Retreat Center in Buckingham, VA for our walks to be held there.
During Covid our community took a hit as did most of the United States. We continue to be a growing, loving community which holds monthly gatherings around our large area, which runs from Buckingham, VA to South Boston, to Bunn, NC to Petersburg, VA and back to Buckingham. This is not to say we don’t pull from other areas in the United States; we had a resident of California on a recent women’s walk and a resident of New Jersey on a recent men’ walk!
There are opportunities for anyone to Walk, Sponsor, participate in send-off, candlelight, closings, gatherings, and be on the board of directors.