Three passions in Germany

Three Passions in Germany


Explore the land where Martin Luther’s passion for the gospel shaped a Reformation and the modern German language. Learn about the history of European Jewry in its passionate struggles under Christendom and the emegence of new patterns of Christian-Jewish relations over the past half-century. Experience the spectacular Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, where a village’s vow in 1633 has been fulfilled every ten years and given inspiration to dozens of productions around the world and millions of visitors over nearly four centuries.

This study travel program has been personally designed and developed by St. Paul’s teaching pastor, Peter A. Pettit, in cooperation with professional travel partners in the US and Europe. Pastor Pettit will lead stimulating, accessible study on topics relevant to the sites both before and during the trip. Experts from both Christian and Jewish communities in Europe will join the group for further study, highlighted by a private meeting with the director of the Oberammergau Passion Play, Christian Stückl, and one of the actors portraying Jesus, Fredrik Mayet.

The travel group size of 30 participants will ensure the personal attention and high-quality service that each traveler will enjoy. Don’t miss this once-a-decade opportunity to experience one of the world’s most renowned and popular theatrical productions, culminating a journey through the fascinating and complicated history of the Lutheran Reformation and modern Christian-Jewish relations.



Monday, August 3

Depart from St. Paul, Davenport, by motor coach for O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, for the direct overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany.

Tuesday, August 4

Arrive at Frankfurt in mid-morning and board our motorcoach for the short trip to Worms, site of the imperial council (“diet”) in 1521 that declared Martin Luther an outlaw. Check into our hotel to freshen up and then visit the Luther memorial and Holy Trinity Church. A further visit to the Jewish cemetery and the synagogue of the great 11th-century scholar, Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Isaac), will begin our encounter with the experience of Europe’s Jews.

Wednesday, August 5

Leave Worms for a short drive to Heppenheim and the offices of the International Council of Chrsitians and Jews. Located in the former family home of the great Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, the ICCJ is the umbrella organization for 40 national bodies from around the world. A tour of the Buber home and a study session with a leading German expert on Christian-Jewish relations will fill the morning.

After lunch, we will drive to Eisenach, located in the state of Thuringia and home to the Wartburg Castle. Here Luther hid for 10 months following the Diet of Worms, using the time to translate the New Testament into the German language of his day. A tour of the castle and dinner will lead to an evening free to rest or to stroll about the town of Eisenach.

Thursday, August 6

Rise to visit the Bachhaus, a museum dedicated to the great Lutheran composer who was born in Eisenach in 1685. (We will also visit the church where Bach was organist and choirmaster in Leipzig.) Continue on to Erfurt to visit the Augustinian monastery where Luther struggled to know God’s love. Then to Eisleben, city of Luther’s birth and death, and Halle, the town that first sent Lutheran missionaries to North America. End the day in Wittenberg, the heartland of the Luther story. (Unpack for two nights!)

Friday, August 7

This day is dedicated to Luther and Wittenberg. A leading Luther scholar will help us understand his place in German culture and church history. Visits to the Luther home, the university church – where the 95 theses were posted – and to St. Anne’s parish church, where Luther preached.

Saturday, August 8

Tie up any loose ends in Wittenberg and drive to Leipzig. Visit St. Thomas church, where Bach was organist and choirmaster, and hear the world-famous St. Thomas choir in concert. See St. Nicholas Church, where the Monday demonstrations of 1989 helped to bring down Communist rule in East Germany. Check out Auerbachs Keller, the first place visited by Faust and Mephistopheles in Johann W. von Goethe’s epic play, Faust. If possible, meet with members of the local Jewish community for dinner and an evening of conversation regarding interfaith relations in Germany today.

Sunday, August 9

Attend worship services at Bach’s St. Thomas Church, then head on to Dresden and the exquisite Meissen Porcelain Factory. Drive to Prague, Czech Republic, for a dinner cruise on the Vitava River.

Monday, August 10

In Prague, we will explore one of the few European urban Jewish quarters that survived the Nazi era and World War II. A study session at the Charles University, one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1348), will feature a young Lutheran scholar of Christian-Jewish relations. Walk across the historic Charles Bridge and explore the castle district on the west side of the river.

Tuesday, August 11

Return to Germany from Prague, stopping to tour the Memorial Site of Dachau, the only Nazi concentration camp to operate throughout the Nazi period. Visit St. Peter’s church tower in Munich and enjoy a hearty Bavarian dinner at the Hofbräuhaus, center of the Oktoberfest tradition.

Wednesday, August 12

Take in a Munich museum in the morning before leaving for Oberammergau, home of the world-famous Passion Play. Check into our rooms in neighboring Ettal and explore the wood-carving shops and Passion Play museum in Oberammergau. After dinner, our group will meet with Christian Stückl and Frederik Mayet, director of the Passion Play and one of the actors who plays Jesus.

Thursday, August 13

Go to the Passion Playhouse for a briefing about the play and a behind-the-scenes tour. After lunch, settle in for Act I of the play. Enjoy a traditional 3-course dinner during the 3-hour intermission and return for Act II in the evening.

Friday, August 14

Depart from Ettal for Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the most exquisite, iconic “Cinderella” castles in all of Europe. Then on to charming, historic Heidelberg for an afternoon walking tour and our closing dinner on the Neckar River. Overnight near the airport in Frankfurt.

Saturday, August 15

All too quickly, return to Frankfurt airport at midday for the direct return flight to Chicago’s O’Hare. We will be picked up by motorcoach at the airport and returned to St. Paul in Davenport.

*This itinerary is under development. Every detail is in the process of confirmation, but changes may occur in sequence, timing, and content.

Cost: $5,699 per person, double occupancy

$699 single-occupancy supplemental charge

Included: Round-trip airfare Chicago-Frankfurt, including one checked bag: local round-trip transfer Davenport-Chicago; motor coach transportation throughout the itinerary; 3-star hotel accommodations; all meals except one or two during free times; all entrance and guide fees, including the Oberammergau Passion Play.

Payment schedule

By check or money order payable to St. Paul Lutheran Church

At sign-up (by February 28) – $1,200

May 1 – $2,000 (+ $699 single supplement, if applicable)

July 1 – $1,999

Cancellation refund schedule

Because airline tickets are purchased specifically for travelers by name, the full cost of the traveler’s airline ticket, once purchased, cannot be refunded. In the event that a traveler cancels, the ticket will be released to the traveler for later use.

In the event that a traveler cancels, all funds paid beyond the cost of a purchased airline ticket will be refunded, with the following deduction:

Up through May 12 – $350

May 13 – June 12 – $450

June 13 – July 12 – $550

After July 12 – $750.

Notice of cancellation must be given in writing or by documented electronic notification (e-mail, fax, text message). The date of receipt by the trip organizers at St. Paul Lutheran Church will be considered the date of cancellation. Phone and other voice communications will not by themselves constitute sufficient notice of cancellation.

Travel Insurance

Travelers are responsible for obtaining any desired trip cancellation insurance. Homeowners and auto insurance companies will often be able to offer this as a low-cost benefit to policy holders.

Medical Insurance

Travelers are responsible for obtaining any desired medical insurance. Medical insurance plans in the USA may or may not provide benefits oversees. Please be sure to check with your provider regarding coverage during the trip.

Travel documents

U.S. citizens require a valid passport as proof of citizenship for travel outside the U.S. Your passport must have an expiration date after the program dates; with a minimum expiration date of six months (February 15, 2021) later than your return date to the U.S., especially if you plan to extend to other countries.

Standard processing time for obtaining a U.S. passport is six weeks. For additional information on obtaining a U.S. passport, click here.

US and Canadian citizens do not need any visas for this trip. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, please check with your consulate to determine what documents are required for traveling internationally. Be sure you advise your consulate of each country you will be traveling to, as document requirements may vary between countries. You will not be allowed to enter or leave foreign countries without proper international documents.

It is your responsibility to obtain all necessary travel documents for your trip. Please make obtaining these documents a priority. Carry these documents with you; do NOT pack them in your luggage. You will need to present your travel documentation to agents at the ticket counter, the security checkpoint and the gate.

St. Paul Lutheran Church and the organizers of “Three Passions in Germany” will not be held liable in the event the traveler does not hold the required travel documents, is denied boarding an airline, or is denied entry into a country, by authorities over whom St. Paul has no control.

Your legal first, middle and last name must appear on all documentation: government issued photo I.D., passport and airline tickets.

It is recommended that you keep a copy of your passport separate from the passport as well as leave a copy at home in case it is lost or stolen.