Bonus Session with Roby Barrett

Roby BarrettWe are looking forward to gathering for our final session of the “Going Places” series on Wednesday, January 9, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in Room C200. Dr. Roby Barrett will lead this bonus session on modern Israel-Palestine and on the current situation there and in the region.

All are welcome to come listen in to Dr. Barrett’s presentation.

Additionally, remember that we will be taking supplies to Bethlehem Bible College as part of our “suitcase ministry” to them when we travel to the Holy Land. If you’d like to know more or would like to contribute, see the post made to our discipleship leaders here.


Onward in 2013: Looking Forward

On a DigAs 2012 draws to a close and we quickly approach our date of departure for the Holy Land, remember the final two sessions of our “Going Places” series coming up on January 2 and 9.

The first will be split into two 45-minute segments: First, John will give a brief presentation on biblical archaeology, Digging In to Understand Biblical History. We will be introduced to the history of archaeology in the Holy Land and to the modern process of excavating a site. This introduction will give us an orientation to how sites are developed and interpreted, in order to help us understand some of the archaeology that we’ll encounter on our journey.

Tina will lead the second half of the session, which will be devoted to travel details, Q & A, and additional tips. We’ll plan a short break between segments so that any who wish to attend the first but who are not traveling with us this year can feel free to be dismissed if they like.

Then, on Jan. 9, we welcome back Dr. Roby Barrett for a bonus presentation on the modern situation in Israel-Palestine and an informed perspective on current events. In addition to the recommended reading mentioned in previous posts (also see under the Resources tab above), he has referred us to a well-written article on the internal challenges that Israel’s growing social diversity has generated. This is a good introduction to the reality of a complex social and political fabric in Israel of which many Americans are unaware. Read the article here.

The History of the Dead Sea

Our group had a fun and informative final session for 2012 in our “Going Places” class Wednesday evening. The focus was on the Dead Sea, Qumran, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here are a couple of interesting links related to the Dead Sea’s history.

First is an article in the “popular science” genre that discusses the historically drastic changes in the Dead Sea’s water level: “A Dry Dead Sea Before Biblical Times.”

Second is an animated map that shows the estimated changes in the size of the Dead Sea as compared to its present level, beginning in about 3300 B.C.: “The Dead Sea: A History of Change.”

Third, Wayne Stiles offers a helpful look at the uniqueness of the Dead Sea, including its unique history and future from a biblical perspective: The Dead Sea Will Live Again

Of course, on the subject of the Dead Sea Scrolls, be sure not to miss the exhibit at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible. It runs through January 13, 2013.

‘Going Places’ Class begins October 3

This Wednesday, Oct. 3, a short series of classes to support our upcoming journey to the Holy Land will begin. We are delighted to offer an opportunity to gather, to get acquainted, to study together, and to prepare. The series is called ‘Going Places’ because it will focus on the land and the locations that we will visit, and on the significance of these places to our understanding of Scripture.

‘Going Places’ will also include an introduction and review of some basic resources for the study of the land, its historical geography, and biblical and archaeological studies in general. There will be many recommendations and opportunities to share excellent resources for further personal study and preparation.

Please note (this is very important): ‘Going Places’ is a class that is open to all, not just to those who will travel with us in January. While some of our discussion will relate directly to the trip, most of the content of this learning experience is relevant to anyone interested in the subject. Come one and all for the entire series, or choose the topics that most appeal to you. You can see the lineup and some specifics about each session here.

The study will meet six times this fall and twice in January, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in Room C200. Note that we will not meet on Oct. 31. As soon as the exact dates in January are determined, they will be posted on this site. Join this exciting and informative adventure here in McKinney, and if would like to come along to the Holy Land, let us know. There’s room for you!

Trip Information Meeting – July 29, 5:30 pm, Room C200

July 29 at 5:30 pm in Room C200 at First UMC McKinney, Information meeting for the Holy Land Trip – January 18-27, 2013.  We will give you information about this trip and answer all your questions as we are able.

Why this trip to this place at this time?

Motivated by the transforming power of Jesus Christ and a desire to enjoy a deeper relationship and understanding of Christ this trip will provide an opportunity like no other. It is a spiritual pilgrimage to follow the route of Jesus and the disciples. We will travel on the major highways that are the same route as ancient roads. We will walk in the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. We will sail on a wooden boat on the Sea of Galilee, walk the Via Dolorosa and end at Calvary and the Empty Tomb.

Even more than seeing the sites!  We will meet and worship with Christians living in the Holy Land and support missions in the Palestinian controlled land.

Dr. John Harman will accompany this trip and teach pre-trip study classes in the fall. Tina Ripperger,, is the group leader and is able to answer questions about the trip.

More information, including a downloadable brochure, can be found in the document box to the lower right of this blog.

Be Prepared, Pt 2: Reading for Jan 14

First, note the correction in yesterday’s post: Roby Barrett will be with us on January 14 (not the 8th).

Next, here are the rest of the documents that Dr. Barrett has recommended for us in preparation for our session on January 14. Three articles have been uploaded to the FUMCintheHolyLand files that you can access just like other files we’ve shared: look for the Box in the righthand column of this page.

These articles are a bit more academic. Begin with Evans’ piece on the media’s role, then Witkin on the Nation-State system (a large file), then Nisan on the Druze in Israel. I won’t be copying these to hand out or emailing them because of copyright restrictions, but I will put them in our file-sharing box only until Saturday, January 14, then  I will remove them.

Here’s what we ask: Please download and read the documents, but do not pass them beyond our group. If you print or save any of these three documents, do so only for your own individual use.

Finally, Roby recommends that we read the prologue and first chapter of Avi Shlaim’s The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World for some more background on the Zionist movement. If you have this book (I recommended it earlier in our series), read pages 1-53. If not, you can actually read the first 51 pages on Google Books. I’ve scanned the last two pages and posted them with our other files.

Shalom and happy reading! See you Sunday!

Be Prepared: Getting Ready for our Jan. 14 Session!

We are delighted to welcome fellow church member Dr. Roby Barrett to lead our last pre-departure session on Jan. 14. This information session will be focused on learning about the various groups and factions that exist today in the Holy Land, and how these groups relate to one another. This includes the relationship between Israel and Palestine, as well the relationships among the groups that exist within Israel and within Palestine.

Our goal on January 14 will be to listen and learn about the situation as it currently stands, in order to inform our experiences as we travel. This session will not be geared toward policy or a discussion of how things should be. Dr. Barrett will have much to offer us, and he will plan to entertain questions as they relate to the evening’s topic and objectives.

Roby has generously provided us with some resources that will help prepare us for our time together. These come in two forms: some recent web articles that you can click on, and some print resources. The former are provided below. Tomorrow, I will create access to the other materials and post instructions here for viewing them. Copyright restrictions will require us to observe some limitations, but these should not be severe.

Please take time to peruse all of the items that have been made available to us. There won’t be a test, but the more informed we are, the better our session our be!,2506,L-4117312,00.html

The Journey is Coming on Sunday Mornings

The season of Advent is coming, and as we prepare our hearts and lives for Christmas this year, we invite you on a Journey. For 5 weeks beginning November 20, the Faith Connections and the Jubilee Sunday school classes will enter into Adam Hamilton’s newest study, The Journey. These classes both meet at 9:00 on Sunday mornings: Faith Connections in Room C210, and Jubilee in Room C200.

This study series includes a video segment each week filmed on location in the Holy Land. The Journey begins in Nazareth with the announcement to Mary that she would bear a child, then follows Mary and Joseph all the way to the birth of Jesus, to the manger in Bethlehem.

Because Hamilton integrates the physical locations of the gospel events into the study so effectively, and because our travel group will visit these places in January, you are warmly invited to join with either class this season. Here is a short YouTube clip to give you a flavor:

Adam Hamilton’s book titled The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem is available from Abingdon Press, as well as an Advent daily devotional guide, The Journey: A Season of Reflection. These are not necessary for the study, but are well-done resources for any who are interested.

Plan to join in as you prepare for Christmas and for our voyage to the Holy Land in January!

We’ve Got Class

Ready to go? It’s time to begin preparing our hearts and minds together as a group for our journey to the Holy Land. We invite and encourage you to join in our short series of study sessions leading up to our departure.

These 8 sessions will include Bible study, a preview of the sites we will visit and their significance, some discussion of the geography and archaeology of the land (and why it matters), and other topics that will inform our experience of the locations we’ll visit. Also, each session will include a brief time for talking over the practical travel tips that we will need for our trip.

So through these sessions we plan to:

  • give you additional information about the land and the sites that we will visit,
  • provide you with additional resources if you wish to go deeper into the topics,
  • share travel tips of things you need or things that might make the trip more comfortable, and
  • create a community:  It is our desire to ensure that we all know each other and that we are traveling as a community of believers to enhance the enjoyment and experience of the trip.

The class will meet on Sundays, October 16, 23, 30, November 6, 13, 20, and January 8. A special Bonus Session will also be offered in January, date TBA. Sessions will be at FUMC in Room C210 from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. See the Classes page for the full schedule. We will post a reminder of each session here, and we hope that you will use this blog to comment, share, ask questions, and engage with one another about what we learning in anticipation of our journey.

Pastor John Harman will lead the sessions, and Tina Ripperger will provide the travel information each week. All are welcome to participate in the study, whether you are traveling with us or not. Although this experience is tailored to the group going in January, the learning will still be valuable and is available to anyone who would like to join in the spirit in which we are gathering. Here is what’ s up for session 1:

The Holy Land is a Land (Oct. 16)

We’ll get the overall lay of the Land in this first session. We will look at the route we will travel, get our bearings on the size, shape, and contour of the Land, and talk about the major geographical regions and their importance. And, of course, we will spend time in Bible study to understand what the Scriptures tell us about the Holy Land and to raise the question, Why does the physical and historical geography matter?

See you there!