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ON T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R FAITH-BASED TRAVEL PLANNERS VOL. 19 - NO. 6

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

LIVE FAITH TRAVEL WORLD YO U R YO U R

FLORIDA FOR

YOUTH GROUPS

CHARMING WILLIAMSBURG

I N T E R N AT I O N A L

TRAVEL GUIDE


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GOF THE

MAGAZINE

[ OCTOBER | NOVEMBER 2016 ]

F O R FA I T H - B A S E D T R AV E L

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Historic Williamsburg The Colonial past is at the heart of this Virginia destination.

Fun inFlorida

Explore five destinations that young travelers will love.

Historic Hotels

These properties take travelers on trips through time.

DEPARTMEN TS Columns

5 EDITOR’S NOTES: How do outsiders see your travel group?

Spotlights 16 A LEGACY OF TRAVEL Peggy Watson carries on a family tradition of church group travel.

ON THE COVER: Tuscany’s San Galgano Church is one of hundreds of religious attractions in Italy. Photo by Ian Shive.

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News 8 LANDS OF THE BIBLE highlighted in seminar 10 GOING ON FAITH CONFERENCE shines in California

I N T E R N AT I O N A L

TRAVEL GUIDE These six foreign countries offer compelling travel experiences for church groups

30 Germany 31 Ireland 32 Israel 33 Italy 34 Jordan 35 Portugal

Mac T. Lacy Founder and Publisher

Brian Jewell Executive Editor

Eliza Myers Online Editor

Charles A. Presley Partner

Herb Sparrow Senior Writer

Christine Clough Copy Editor

Donia Simmons Creative Director

Ashley Ricks Circulation

David Brown Art Director

Stacey Bowman Account Manager

Going On Faith is published bimonthly by THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc., 301 East High Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507, and is distributed free of charge to qualified group leaders who plan travel for churches, synagogues and religious organizations. All other travel suppliers, including tour operators, destinations, attractions, transportation companies, hotels, restaurants, and other travel-related companies, may subscribe to Going On Faith by sending a check for $39 for one year to: Going On Faith, Circulation Department, 301 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40507. Phone: (859) 253-0455 or (859) 253-0503. Copyright THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial or graphic content in any manner without the written consent of the publisher is prohibited.


through the eyes NOTES of an OUTS IDER EDITOR’S

BRI A N J EW EL L

W

hen was the last time you looked at your church’s travel program through the eyes of a visitor? Until early this year, I had attended the same church nearly every week of my life. This brought some incredible, long-lasting relationships and a deep sense of community. But after decades as part of one faith family, I had very little notion of what our little church might look like to an outsider. Last winter, when my wife and I decided that it was time for a change, we spent about three months taking our young family to visit different churches around Lexington, Kentucky, before finding one that we love. Visiting churches was eye-opening in many ways. In addition to forcing us to think about what we valued most in a church family, it gave us the experience of coming into a congregation as an outsider, which offered a valuable perspective. Your church leaders probably pay attention to the impression your services make on outsiders. And to the extent that your travel program represents your church and its mission, you should think about the impressions you make on new and prospective travelers as well. Here are five questions to ask about your church travel program to make sure you’re creating positive experiences for newcomers. 1) ARE WE WELCOMING? No church visitor wants to feel unwelcome or unwanted — that’s why we often put our most personable people at the front doors as greeters and ushers. But if your group has traveled together for a long time, there’s a chance it might seem exclusive or inaccessible to outsiders. Some people will join you only when they are directly invited, so make sure you are quick to welcome new travelers into your fold.

2) ARE WE ORGANIZED? In many modern, thriving churches, Sunday services run like well-oiled machines. But does your travel program? People will feel uncomfortable about spending money to travel with you if you aren’t quick to return phone calls, if you delay in answering email or if you otherwise give the sense you are disorganized. 3) ARE WE TRUSTWORTHY? We all grieve when a well-known church or ministry is found to have mishandled funds or abused people’s trust. Transparency and trustworthiness are keys to making visitors feel comfortable about a church, as well as its travel program. You should be clear about how you handle funds and the steps you take to ensure safety on trips. 4) ARE WE VIBRANT? Recent studies have found that in the United States, thousands of churches close every year, and most of those closings are due to aging congregations that don’t successfully recruit younger members. Even if your travel program is part of your seniors ministry, it’s imperative to constantly appeal to people on the young end of your target demographic in order to keep your program from declining as the faithful age. 5) ARE WE ON-MISSION? Churches lose their way when they stray from the core tenets of their mission — serving their communities and sharing the Gospel — and if your travel program becomes unmoored from the mission of your church, you could lose your way, too. In everything you do, make sure you are serving the purpose of your church and, ultimately, the Great Commission.

BRIAN JEWELL [ EDITOR ] brianj@grouptravelleader.com

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]

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NEWS WORTHY

A new statue in San Francisco honors music star Tony Bennett.

TONY BENNETT HONORED WITH SAN FRANCISCO STATUE SAN FRANCISCO — The city of San Francisco recognized singer Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday in August by dedicating an eight-foottall bronze statue of him atop Nob Hill on the lawn of the Fairmont San Francisco hotel, where he first publically performed his iconic “I Left My

Heart in San Francisco.” Bay Area sculptor Bruce Wolfe created the statue of Bennett using “old-fashion” wet gray/brown clay process. Wolfe has also created statues of George P. Shultz, Steve Silver, Harvey Milk and Margaret Thatcher.

A new Christmas event will bring 400 light displays to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Courtesy IMS

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY TO LIGHT UP FOR THE HOLIDAYS

We’re not just any small town. We’re the most beautiful small town in America, according to Rand McNally and USA Today. Since 1770, spiritual seekers have journeyed to Kentucky’s Holy Land. Whether you visit the home of Trappist Monks or the oldest Catholic cathedral west of the Allegheny Mountains, you’re sure to stand amazed in the presence of Bardstown’s centuries-old religious heritage.

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going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]

www.visitbardstown.com 800.638.4877

INDIANAPOLIS — Beginning this November, more than 2 million holiday lights will light up the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Tour buses and families alike can drive around the iconic century-old track through the display and cross the famous Yard of Bricks. Lights at the Brickyard also will feature 400 displays in 40 scenes over 1.7 miles. The seasonal event will run Nov. 18-20, Nov. 23-27 and Dec. 1-31. Speedway Speedy Pass tickets are available now at IMS.com. This ticket allows guests to skip the main line into the facility and gain faster access. The Speedway Speedy Pass entrance is via Gate 12 adjacent to the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course. www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/events/ lights


NEW $2.5 MILLION PARADE ADDED TO DOLLYWOOD’S SMOKY MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee — Dolly Parton has announced the addition of a new $2.5 million parade to Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. Named the Parade of Many Colors, the parade will celebrate the fun, faith, family and harmony of the holidays with floats, interactive characters and a few surprises. Dollywood has also remastered its Christmas in the Smokies show and returned it to its traditional home at D.P.’s Celebrity Theater. It will also debut “It’s a Wonderful Life,” based on the timeless holiday movie. The Parade of Many Colors is part of the Dollywood Company’s $300 million investment strategy announced in 2013. The company also recently announced the addition of TailSpin Racer to Dollywood’s Splash Country for 2017. www.dollywood.com

A re-imagined stage show and the brand new Parade of Many Colors will ring in the holidays at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

Courtesy Dollywood

DISCOVER WHATíS POSSIBLE Thereís plenty to discover in Houston. Hyatt Regency Houston/Galleria is located in the heart of Uptown Houston, steps away from The Galleria Shopping Center - Houston's #1 tourist attraction. This hotel features rooms that were designed with the traveler in mind. Built-in case goods are used throughout to give rooms a spacious, modern aesthetic feel. The theme is derived from the geological aspect of the oil & gas industry. Steel greys accented by earth tones and turquoise are found throughout. Book by June 30, 2016 and receive complimentary on-site bus parking and guest room for bus driver. Minimum of 10 rooms on peak.

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The trademark HYATT and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]

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GOING ON FAITH HOSTS

BIBLE LANDS TRAVEL SEMINAR

C

HICAGO — The lands of the Bible took center stage at a tourism event in Chicago in April when the Going On Faith Bible Lands Travel Seminar brought experts from throughout the Middle East together in an informative two-hour panel discussion. The event was hosted by Going On Faith, America’s only travel magazine for church and religious groups, and took place at DePaul University on September 27. “Traveling to the lands of the Bible is one of the most compelling journeys that church groups can take, but the distance, cost and logistics can make it intimidating for some church travel planners to take on such a project,” said Brian Jewell, executive editor of Going On Faith and the moderator of the seminar’s panel discussion. “Our goal at this event was to expose our audience to the breadth of amazing travel experiences across the region and give them tools to help plan and promote trips that will have an impact on their congregations.” Panelists for the discussion included Jill Daley of the Israel Ministry of Tourism; Christine Moore of the Jordan Tourism Board North America; and Ziya Gokmen, a licensed Turkish tour guide and an expert on the country’s faith heritage sites. These experts discussed the thread of biblical history that runs through their countries, the unique experiences that await Christian visitors to their destinations and the other can’t-miss natural and historical attractions that any group traveling in the region should stop and see. The seminar also included a frank conversation about the political and security concerns that hinder many potential visitors from traveling to the region. “Many Americans only hear about some of these countries on the news, and the headlines coming out of this region rarely do it justice,” Jewell said. “Our conversation in Chicago took some of these difficult issues head-on and demonstrated the kind of unity and cooperation that travel can promote.” The seminar was made possible by the participation of numerous tourism organizations that crossed religious, political and geographical divides. The Egyptian Tourism Authority, Israel Ministry of Tourism and Jordan Tourism Board North America all sponsored the seminar on behalf of their destinations. Other sponsors included Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s national air carrier, which offers extensive service to cities throughout the region, and Select International Tours, an American tour operator that specializes in arranging faith-based trips to the lands of the Bible. More than 30 church representatives and faith travel professionals registered to attend the seminar. Turkish Airways and Select International Tours concluded the event by giving away a free trip to Israel and Jordan to one of the church travel planners in attendance.

Church travel planners attending the Going On Faith Bible Lands Travel Seminar in Chicago learn about travel opportunities in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Turkey and meet experts from those countries.

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Photos by Ashley Ricks

going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]


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FREE TRAVEL TOOLBOX E-BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

uilding great group trips takes great tools, and the staff at The Group Travel Leader Inc. has compiled the 2016 Travel Toolbox, a new set of tips, insights and education to help travel planners organize and promote travel in creative ways. This free resource is available online as an e-book download at www.grouptravelleader.com/ebook. “Our staff has decades of experience in group tourism, and we’re constantly talking to tour operators, destination representatives and other travel professionals to find out about the latest and greatest ideas in travel,” said Brian Jewell, executive editor of The Group Travel Leader, Going on Faith and Select Traveler magazines. “The 2016 Travel Toolbox combines our insights from hundreds of trips and thousands of interviews to create an invaluable source of intelligence and ideas for anyone who plans group travel.”

Available exclusively online, the e-book is broken into six short chapters that deal with different aspects of travel, tourism and technology. “New Dynamics for Dining” recommends great ways for planners to integrate culinary experiences into their tours, and “Get What You Pay For” details factors that influence the cost of trips. Other chapters are “Demographics,” “Sometimes the Best Advice is Free,” “New Moves in Transportation” and “Travel Fit.” “There’s no other resource like this available in the tourism industry,” Jewell said. “Not only will group leaders and tour operators get new ideas from the content of the e-book, but destination representatives and other travel industry workers will benefit from staying abreast of the trends that are shaping the future of travel.” The 2016 Travel Toolbox is being offered as a service to readers of The Group Travel Leader and

2016

travel toolbox

sister publications Select Traveler and Going On Faith. The e-book download will be available for a limited time only, so get your copy today. DOWNLOAD THE E-BOOK TODAY: www.grouptravelleader.com/ebook g p 2016

travel toolbox

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CALIFORNIA WELCOMES GOING ON FAITH CONFERENCE

By Dan Dickson

The Ice Cream Social was a sweet beginning to the 2016 Going On Faith Conference.

by

D

DA N DIC K SON

elegates at the recent Going On Faith Conference learned a lot about travel. They heard from a “power of persuasion� speaker; the head of a new faithbased, social-impact travel company; a Holy Land travel specialist; travel experts promoting both a wildly expanding cruise line and a longtime industry leader; and another who encouraged

going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]

trips to Ohio Amish Country. It was a busy three days, August 8-10, at the Ontario Convention Center, located on the edge of the desert 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It was the first time delegates had traveled that far west for a Going On Faith Conference. Most church and program directors felt the two marketplace sessions were quite productive.


BUSY TRAVEL PLANNERS

About 130 church and travel program directors attended the conference. All arrived with specific goals in mind, whether it was their first time to the conference or they were veterans. “We have members with all types of budgets,” said Joe Cappuzzello, president and CEO of The Group Travel Family, which staged the conference. “Sometimes it’s misrepresented that religious groups are always on a tight budget looking for lower room rates. They are people going all around the world to Israel, Italy and all religious sites. Our people will go anywhere if they see value in it.” Darla Morgan of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was a new attendee. “I’m just starting out in this industry and was told this is where I need to be,” she said. “Getting the contacts and knowing what is available out there is necessary. There are wonderful resources here. I really enjoyed this.” Morgan’s group is called the BALL club, which stands for Be Active Live Longer. “We met quite a few people we didn’t expect to see,” said Diane Nichols of New Hope Senior Adults of Fayetteville, Georgia. “This is our third time here, and every time we’ve found somebody and booked trips. We do day trips and overnights, cruises, and are talking about going out of the country.”

Howard Vandever of West Division Street Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri, made a direct connection between travel and faith. “We took over the ministry from another couple and enjoy going out and seeing the things God made,” Vandever said. “On the way here, we went by the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert National Park and Petrified Forest National Park. Our groups are older, and we enjoy taking people out to see everything. It’s mind-boggling.” Darlene McClure of O Happy Days Tours in Visalia, California, was one of many planners representing the Golden State. “I try to find out how to grow my groups and involve them in the faith-based travel community,” said McClure. “I’ve been to Israel twice, and my niche is religious travel.” McClure added that she received a business inspiration while on a religious trip. “I actually heard the song ‘O Happy Day’ while on the Sea of Galilee, and tears began to flow, and I knew that would be my travel company’s name,” she said. One program director came from Nassau, Bahamas, but is looking for interesting stateside destinations. Delton Ellis of Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church said, “I try to discover what out there is new. We’ve done a lot of international travel over the last eight years, including Israel, Europe and the Greek Isles, but we’ve started coming back to America.” CONT INUED ON PAGE 13

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]


SPEAKERS AND SPONSORS

DELIVER ENTERTAINMENT AND IDEAS by

Wayne Peyreau, MSC Cruises (USA)

Boaz Shalgi, EDI Travel

Keith Powell

going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]

T

DA N DIC K SON

he Going On Faith Conference is known for presenting a roster of speakers who bring fresh information about their travel companies and the exciting trips they offer. To kick off this year’s conference in Ontario, California, Mac Lacy, a partner in the Going On Faith Conference, described to audience members the importance of international faith-based travel. “It’s been said that faith-based travel is the oldest type of travel known to man, and that makes a lot of sense,” said Lacy. “It’s very true, isn’t it?” Targeting all church and program directors and travel industry representatives, keynote and motivational speaker Keith Powell emphasized the “power of passion” in everyone’s business dealings. “Passion moves people to action. Passion causes people to get excited and enthused,” said Powell. “And it is belief that is empowering. The Greek word for enthusiasm means ‘hand of God.’ You can’t get more passionate than that.” Attendees also got to hear detailed information on a variety of travel products from the experts that created them. Among the most popular presenters was Tara Russell, creator of the new social-impact organization Fathom Cruises. “We essentially help people discover their superpowers and God-given gifts, talents, purpose and why they’re here,” Russell told attendees. “We have created a travel experience that allows people to walk with God in a beautiful, playful, engaging and dynamic way.” Talking about the people her travelers meet and help in foreign nations, she said, “We fall in love with them and have gained so much from them and their cultures.” Boaz Shalgi, owner of EDI Travel, is a Holy Land tour specialist. “There’s something special about this destination. When you come to the Holy Land, it’s a Bible study tour,” said Shalgi. “This is where everything happened. Think about Abraham, David, King Solomon, Jesus, the disciples. When you land in Israel, everything you learned becomes literal. We walk where the prophets walked; see the place where David triumphed over Goliath; go to the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked on water and performed his miracles. Your own pastor can preach a sermon from the Mount. You can see where Jesus was born. Words cannot describe that.” The Globus Family of Brands offers outstanding faith-based trips, as described by Joanna Dyer. “There are several years of really exciting events coming,” said Dyer. “One is the celebration of the 500 years of the Reformation in Germany in 2017. It’s very popular. If you haven’t thought of planning this yet, I encourage you to do it now. We have itineraries in Wittenberg, the birthplace of the Reformation.” Dyer also plugged the 100th anniversary of the Our Lady of Fatima Apparitions in Portugal. Pope Francis is expected to visit in 2017. The Oberammergau Passion Play in Bavaria is staged only every 10 years and arrives in 2020. Wayne Peyreau talked about MSC Cruises, a relatively new line of which many people may not have heard. “We’ve conquered Europe. We’ve conquered South America. But no one knows who we are in North America — yet,” said Peyreau. There are 12 ships in the current MSC fleet, and 11 more ships are to be launched between 2017 and 2026.


CO N T I N U E D F ROM PAG E 11

TRAVEL INDUSTRY SUCCESS

About 105 travel industry vendors attended the conference determined to attract new business with so many eager travel planners in the same room. Francois Jean Viel of Quebec National Shrines came to Ontario to promote his region’s Catholic heritage sites. “We have five national shrines in the province,” he said. “My goal is to make Quebec’s shrines known and to attract as many people to them as possible. By visiting all of these Roman Catholic shrines, you get to see all of Quebec.” Matt Scott of Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad in Elkins, West Virginia, wants to bring visitors to his state’s beautiful mountains. “We hope to sign new bus groups,” he said. “Many of my appointments were from the Midwest and West, and [we] hope to grow those markets. I’ve had four bookings this year from folks in California. We’re stretching our wings.” The train excursions run from two to eight hours, with lunch included. “Groups travel up into unspoiled wilderness only accessible by rail. Riders step off the train and smell fresh mountain air and explore waterfalls.”

Stephanie MacCargar flew all the way from Florida’s Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort. “It’s our first year at the conference, and it’s good to be exposed to new planners we haven’t seen before,” she said. “We have many unique resort features that people on the West Coast may not be aware of. Religious groups are a big market for us.” Michele Renahan of Discover Gilbert in Arizona said her town is ramping up tourism. “We’re 20 minutes southeast of Phoenix and are exploring the group market,” she said. “I like the smallness of this meeting because it’s a great way to dip your toe in and see what fits.” Michael Benton from Davey Coach in Sedalia, Colorado, was selling buses. “The church market is a big sector we service, as well as tour operators,” Benton said. “We sell many buses, new and used, with parts, service and graphics available. We have ABA-equipped and regular buses.”

Amish Country. “It will have a totally different feel,” said Cappuzzello. “We all will go back in time, so to speak. We’ll be in a giant church with not one hotel, but four smaller ones serving us.” “Given that we are the No. 1 Amish population in the world, we have people come there to experience the slower pace of life,” said Codi Mast of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau in Millersburg, Ohio. “You can unplug. We have many faith-based groups visit and, overall, have so many authentic experiences to see and participate in that are part of the community and culture.”

LOOKING TO 2017

The Going On Faith Conference will take a fresh, interesting turn in 2017 when it is held in Ohio’s

DEARBORN COUNTY – SOUTHEAST INDIANA

Twilight Tour

Historic Mansions Dinner Hotels & Attractions only 5 minutes/1 exit from Creation Museum After a day at the Creation Museum and check-in at your Lawrenceburg hotel, venture down the Ohio River Scenic Byway to dine in historic Aurora’s landmark estates – Hillforest Victorian House Museum and Veraestau Historic Site. The evening includes tours of both properties. ($38/person, all inclusive; 2 tours, dinner, dessert buffet; 20 person minimum; Escort & Driver Comps)

Contact Dearborn County Group Sales, Sally McWilliams at 812-265-6999 or smcwilliams@visitsoutheastindiana.com

Dearborn County Convention Visitor & Tourism Bureau 320 Walnut Street • Lawrenceburg, IN 47025 • 1-800-322-8198

www.TOURSoutheastIndiana.com “Like” TOUR Southeast Indiana on Facebook


ONTARIO WOWS

CONFERENCE DELEGATES by

DAN DICKSON

F

LoanMart Field

going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]

or many delegates, attending the Going on Faith Conference marked their first trip to Ontario, California. Located some 35 miles from Los Angeles, Ontario is a jumping-off point for many destinations and attractions throughout Southern California. Ontario itself has some fun things going on, and meeting attendees got to sample some of them. Before the opening ceremonies on the first day of the conference, everyone enjoyed an old-fashioned ice cream social in the sun-splashed lobby of the Ontario Convention Center. Guests enjoyed sundaes and sat together at tables to socialize and get to know one another. That evening, the delegates rode a bus to the LoanMart Field for a baseball game between the hometown Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, an A-level affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Lake Elsinore Storm. Before the game, everyone gathered in the picnic pavilion for a delicious barbecue meal. The next day, attendees split into groups for sightseeing tours of the area. Some visited an olive factory, and others went to Auto Club Raceway, a NASCAR track near Ontario. Those who dared got to climb into a pace car for a ride around the track. “I thought it was cool,” said Jacqueline Burtin of Elite Fun Travel in Chicago. “We went 115 miles an hour in the pace car. I’ve never experienced anything like that. When they told us there are normally 40 cars on the track racing 200 miles an hour — I don’t think I’d want to do that.” “The baseball game was really fun,” said Roger Dudley, who attended as a representative of Ohio Has It!, a statewide tourism marketing cooperative. “The food was great. The ballpark was really an intimate experience. The shopping destination was neat and reminded me of a couple we have back in Ohio. I went to the racetrack, and it was neat to ride in one of the pace cars around the track. I didn’t know a Toyota Camry could go that fast.” “From what I’ve seen, Ontario seems like a nice, quaint area, considering it is just a few miles from a big city,” said John Seegers of International Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida. “I like the area a lot. It definitely has a desert feel to it. We took a tour of the olive house, and that was interesting. It was cool to see how they can the olives with all the big machinery.” That evening everyone traveled to Victoria Gardens, a walkable shopping district full of restaurants and stores. Everyone was handed a gift card to be used at any restaurant of their choice in the district. “We are very excited and grateful to have hosted Going On Faith,” said Arlette Garibay of the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is a market we are strong in and [for which we] offer a great destination. We also have great hotel partners that will help any group that wants to visit. Please come back.”


going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]


Continuing a Legacy

TRAVEL

peggy watson

[

PASEO BAPTIST CHURCH by

of FAITH FACES

]

B RI AN JE WE LL

Like most great things in life, Peggy Watson learned about church group travel from her mother. Watson, who lives in Kansas City, Missouri, watched her mom plan trips for friends at her church for years, until time and age took their toll on the group. “Her last trip was in 2003,” Watson said. “She took 75 people on the train to the Grand Canyon.” By that time, Watson had joined Paseo Baptist Church, which had been around for more than 100 years, and figured that if travel had succeeded for her mother’s congregation, it might work for hers, too. So she surveyed the church membership and found that there was a demand for faithbased, community-building trips. “We did a survey to ask some of the adults what they wanted, and they wanted trips,” she said. “A lot of us are widows or widowers, and we don’t want to travel alone. So the church was a vehicle where they could travel and feel comfortable being alone.” So in 2001, shortly before her mother’s retirement from travel planning, Peggy Watson started planning trips of her own. “It started out being just day trips,” she said. “We would go to places close by, not even as far as Branson. Just places an hour away, like St. Joseph. Then someone said we had been everywhere we could go, so we decided to branch out. We took our first big trip to Orlando, Florida, to see the Holy Land Experience.” Watson’s mother died in 2014, but her legacy in faith-based travel lives on.

NEAR AND FAR Not long after her group began taking trips further afield, Watson discovered the Going On Faith Conference, which going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]

PASEO BAPTIST CHURCH

Peggy Watson takes members of Kansas City’s Paseo Baptist Church around the country to discover African American heritage. The group also travels abroad.

“ W E S TA RT E V E RY D AY W I T H A D E V O T I O N O N T H E B U S . T H AT R E A L LY S E T S T H E C L I M AT E AND HELPS PEOPLE GET THEIR MINDS SET FOR T H E D AY. E V E N O U R S T E P - O N G U I D E S H A V E G O T T E N U S E D T O I T — W E ’ R E G O I N G T O TA K E SOME TIME FOR DEVOTIONS BEFORE THEY GET S TA RT E D .”


has been a consistent source of new travel ideas and information for her. She attends with her cousin, who helps her plan travel for the church. “I have really enjoyed my association with that,” she said. “We went to Going On Faith for the first time in Louisville in 2006. We have missed only one since then. We meet so many people there that are so beneficial. If this had been around when my mother was planning trips, it would have been so helpful to her because toward the end, her group was running out of places to go.” It was a contact at the Going On Faith Conference that inspired Watson to plan a 2014 trip to the Holy Land, which she said is the biggest one she has ever done. But it’s not the only ambitious travel project she has taken on: The Paseo Baptist Church travelers take an international trip each year, and Watson said her members are willing to spend $2,500 to $3,000 per person to visit international destinations with the church group. “We did a trip to Nova Scotia this summer,” she said. “We wanted to see how Canadian black history goes along with our AfricanAmerican history. We combined Nova Scotia with Boston and Cape Cod — it was 12 days. That trip was $2,500, and I had 35 people.” Watson said 2017 will be her most ambitious travel year yet. She is planning a trip to Paris and London in conjunction with Collette; a tour of Mackinac Island in Michigan; a trip to Atlanta and Georgia’s Historic Heartland region, based on a FAM tour she took earlier this year with this magazine’s parent company, The Group Travel Leader Inc.; a journey to the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky; and a land-and-sea adventure in Hawaii. Not all of her trips are so far afield, though. Watson said she will take a group back to Branson next year to see the epic biblical musical “Moses” at Sight and Sound Theatre. “I still have a group of people that only do day trips, so I still offer at least three day trips a year,” she said. “Next year, those will be a train ride to Jefferson City, [and] then we’re going to Omaha and then to Branson.”

Although not every trip takes the group to faith-based destinations or attractions, Watson always makes sure to keep the greater mission of the church front and center during her tours. “We start every day with a devotion on the bus,” she said. “That really sets the climate and helps people get their minds set for the day. Even our step-on guides have gotten used to it — we’re going to take some time for devotions before they get started.” The combination of hard work, great destinations, personal connections and spiritual emphasis has reaped benefits. She is working on trips to Washington, D.C.; Panama; and the Kentucky Derby for 2018 and is seeing encouraging growth in her program. “I turned 70 this year, and we’re looking at all sorts of different things,” she said. “I’m encouraging church members to bring their grandkids to the Creation Museum and to bring their friends from other churches as well. Right now I have at least five different churches traveling with me.” No doubt, her mother would be proud.

CON NECTING WITH PEOPLE For much of her time as a travel planner, Watson was working professionally as a registered dietician. Though she retired last spring, she finds that many of the skills she picked up during her professional life come in handy in her travel career as well. “As a dietician, every patient room I went into, I was seeing someone new,” she said. “I was constantly asking, ‘How am I going to relate to this person?’ In travel, you get a lot of different personalities, too. I really like people, and I think everybody has a story, so I have learned how to go from one person to another and really connect with them.” Watson also believes that the organizational skills she developed during her career help her succeed as a travel planner. She said she enjoys doing research on destinations and planning the details of trips herself, and she has learned to consistently seek feedback from her travelers. “Understand that it’s really hard work,” she said. “Planning in advance really helps, and so does constant evaluation. When you come back from your trip, do surveys and see what your travelers have to say about it.”

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]


TRAVEL

SNAPSHOT Visitors learn about historic navigation at re-created ships at Jamestown Settlement, part of the Historic Triangle around Williamsburg.

by B R IA N JEWELL

A COLONIAL CAPITAL WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA

T

here’s a reason that groups headed to Washington, D.C., often stop for a day or two in Williamsburg, Virginia, first: This midsize town is home to the country’s most beloved livinghistory attractions. Colonial Williamsburg, the historic interpretation area spread out on more than 301 acres in the center of the town, is recognized nearly universally as the best immersive history site in the country. From the furnishing and art in its hundreds of original and re-created structures to its costumes, period-correct restaurants and worldclass interpreters, Colonial Williamsburg sets a standard in authenticity and inspiration that few other historical entities can approach. Colonial Williamsburg began in the 1920s, when local leaders decided to start preserving historic buildings along Duke of Gloucester Street. Many of

those structures had been constructed during the period when Williamsburg served as Virginia’s Colonial capital. Philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. funded the project, which preserved and restored approximately 85 percent of the 18thcentury town’s original footprint. Today, visitors to the site will find 88 original historic buildings, as well as 500 more buildings that have been reconstructed based on extensive historical records and archaeological findings. Groups can tour a reconstructed Colonial capitol, as well as numerous original homes, businesses, churches and other buildings that would have been central to town life in the Colonial period. As they make their way through the town, visitors interact with interpreters playing the roles of both everyday townspeople and notable historical figures, who serve to bring the Colonial experience to

Williamsburg Winter

life in vivid detail. In addition to exploring the town in guided tours or on their own, groups can take part in numerous special programs at Colonial Williamsburg. Perhaps the best is “Revolutionary City,” a theatrical program that plays out in the streets and shows the events that took place in Williamsburg during the Revolutionary period and illustrates the impact they had on the lives of citizens at that time. For extended experiences, groups can arrange to have dinners in one of several period restaurants in the village, as well as other modern venues that surround it. The organization also has numerous hotels, which range from economy lodges to the historic and luxurious Williamsburg Inn. And though the historic area is Williamsburg’s main attraction, visitors can enjoy a variety of other activities during their time in the area.

A Colonial carriage

Grand Illumination in Colonial Williamsburg

going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]

All photos courtesy Visit Williamsburg


[ BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG ]

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Dinner at Williamsburg Winery

History, culture and fun come together at Busch Gardens, a 100-acre theme park that has been thrilling visitors to Williamsburg for decades. Consistently voted among the most beautiful parks in the United States, Busch Gardens invites visitors to explore Old World architecture, art, food and culture in its six sections, which are themed around six countries in 17th-century Europe. The park features numerous thrill rides, including five roller coasters, as well as live shows, shopping and other activities that tie into the European history theme. There is also an on-site water park, Water Country USA, which features more than 40 waterslides. WWW.BUSCHGARDENS.COM

[ MUSCARELLE MUSEUM OF ART ] Aside from the living-history area, the most notable landmark in downtown Williamsburg is the College of William and Mary, which was chartered in 1693 and is the second-oldest college in the country. There, groups can visit the Muscarelle Museum of Art, an encyclopedic art museum housed inside one of the campus buildings. The museum’s collection began in 1732 and now includes more than 5,000 works of art. Highlights include numerous European and American portraits from the 17th through the 19th centuries, as well as photography, African art, Asian ceramics, Japanese prints and paintings dating as far back as the medieval period of the 1300s. WWW.MUSCARELLE.ORG

[ WILLIAMSBURG WINERY ]

A George Washington re-enactor at Colonial Williamsburg Chennault Aviation and Military Museum Jamestown Settlement

If you have food- and drink-lovers in your group — or travelers who would enjoy a break from the crowds of the area’s biggest attractions — consider taking an afternoon to visit the Williamsburg Winery. Located on a historic 300-acre farm outside the city, the winery produces more than 25 wines and offers a number of culinary experiences for travelers. Groups can get tours of the winery and barrel cellars every day, and in-depth tours and reserve tastings are available with advance reservations. Lunch is available daily in the beautiful Gabriel Archer Tavern. The farm also boasts Wedmore Place, a 28-room country hotel with an on-site fine-dining restaurant. WWW.WILLIAMSBURGWINERY.COM

[ HISTORIC TRIANGLE ] Colonial Williamsburg might be the most famous living-history site in Virginia, but it isn’t the only one. Williamsburg is one point of the area’s Historic Triangle, which also includes Jamestown, site of the first English settlement in North America, and Yorktown, where British soldiers surrendered to George Washington’s troops at the end of the Revolutionary War. Each of these towns is about 10 miles from Williamsburg and is accessible by the beautiful Colonial Parkway, which connects all three destinations. Jamestown visitors can see the site of the British landing, then explore Jamestown Settlement, and Yorktown visitors can see both the actual battlefield and the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum and interpretive site. WWW.HISTORYISFUN.ORG

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]


STATE O F

F A I T H

FUN FLORIDA

FI NDING

IN

TH E SUNS HIN E STATE BECKON S YOUT H GROUPS FROM COAST TO COAST

By Brian Jewell

Florida highlights, clockwise from top: Ponce Inlet Lighthouse in Daytona Beach; Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral; airboat tours in Kissimmee

Courtesy Experience Kissimmee

By Brian Jewell


[ DESTINATION

# 1 TAMPA ]

HIGHLIGHT | SWIMMING WITH SHARKS

FLORIDA

#5

DAY TON A BE AC H

#1 TAM PA

F by

#2

#4 SPAC E COA ST

O R L A N DO

#3

KI SSI M M EE

B R I A N JE WE LL

ew things get young travelers more excited than a trip to Florida. Across the eastern half of the United States, many church youth groups make annual trips to the Sunshine State for retreats, church camps, vacations and other activities. And although the beach can make a great setting for these kinds of activities, Florida has much more to offer, from world-class amusement parks to the home of America’s space program and abundant wildlife. To freshen up your youth group’s trip to Florida next year, consider using the following itinerary, which stops in five of the most popular destinations in the central part of the state. This tour begins on the Gulf Coast in Tampa and then proceeds east to Orlando and Kissimmee, before continuing to Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Coast and finally ending in Daytona Beach. Young travelers with lots of stamina could hit the highlights of these destinations in as little as four days, although a five-day trip would allow more time to properly take in the best experiences in each area.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Courtesy Universal Orlando

In downtown Tampa, the Florida Aquarium gives visitors a look at some of the most fascinating sea animals from both central Florida and more exotic locales such as Madagascar. And a visit to this aquarium entails much more than looking at fish tanks: Immersive, interactive environments take you “from sea level to tree level” in habitats full of creatures as diverse as lemurs, African penguins, pythons and chameleons. The aquarium staff offers a variety of specialized experiences for groups, including overview tours and customized behind-the-scenes journeys through the facility. For serious bragging rights, make arrangements for some of your sea-life-loving travelers to swim with the animals at the aquarium. The staff offers this opportunity in two different large tanks. One employs special diving technology that does not require scuba certification and that allows participants to come face to face with thousands of fish that live in a coral reef habitat. W H I L E Y O U í R E T H E R E : The Tampa Bay History Center tells the story of the city’s development and highlights the role — and the roll — of the Cuban culture and cigar industry in the area’s growth. And an evening out in Ybor City, the area’s former cigar factory district, gives groups entertainment with a distinctly Spanish flair. MORE

INFO

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WWW.VISITTAMPABAY.COM

[ DESTINATION

# 2 ORLANDO ]

HIGHLIGHT | UNIVERSAL APPEAL

Orlando has been America’s theme park capital for generations. And while young children often find the happiest place on earth at the area’s Disney attractions, Universal’s two movie-inspired parks are aimed squarely at the youth and teenage demographic. Universal’s two parks — Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure — have roller coasters and 3-D multimedia rides that push the limits of conventional amusement park experiences. But what has made a splash in recent years is Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which invites guests to step into the world of the books and films that dominated pop culture during the past decade. Beyond the Harry Potter areas, Universal offers a number of special options for youth groups. Planners can arrange for VIP guided tours around the park as well as tours of the production studios at the property that are used to create films and TV shows. Universal Orlando also hosts an annual Christian music festival, Rock the Universe. WHILE YOUíRE THERE: The Exotic Driving Experience and the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Orlando offers one of the most highend and high-intensity travel experiences available for groups traveling in central Florida. Participants can drive NASCAR vehicles or high-end sports cars, such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris, on the Walt Disney World Speedway, with professional race car drivers in the shotgun seat. MORE

INFO

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WWW.VISITORLANDO.COM

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]


#3

[ DESTINATION

KISSIMMEE ]

HIGHLIGHT | AN ALLIGATOR CAPITAL

About 20 miles south of Orlando, Kissimmee is a popular overnight destination for groups that are visiting the major theme parks and looking for more affordable hotel accommodations outside the city. But it isn’t just a bedroom community; this town offers its own attractions worth exploring. Kissimmee is surrounded by wetlands that are populated with many wild alligators, and groups can learn about these reptiles at Gatorland, a park that bills itself as the Alligator Capital of the World. Visitors can see hundreds of alligators, crocodiles and other wild animals in the park, or soar above the alligators on the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. Travelers see more of the swamp up close on Wild Florida Airboat Tours. These excursions use high-powered fan boats to glide across the waters of the Everglades, where visitors see many examples of the area’s wildlife in its native habitat. They get an even closer look at the company’s on-site wildlife park, which is home to more than 200 animals. WHILE YOUíRE THERE: Numerous after-hours entertainment options in and around Kissimmee will keep the fun rolling after young travelers leave the parks. Capone’s Dinner and Show features music, dancing, action and comedy, along with a buffet dinner, and Medieval Times combines eat-with-your-hands dining with chivalry, horseback stunts and more in a re-created 13th-century castle. MORE

INFO

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WWW.EXPERIENCEKISSIMMEE.COM

[ DESTINATION

# 4 SPACE COAST ]

HIGHLIGHT | A LEGACY OF EXPLORATION

Anyone who has watched space exploration has likely seen images of spacecraft launching from Cape Canaveral on Florida’s central Atlantic coast. For travelers, a visit to Kennedy Space Center affords an opportunity to see launch pads, landing strips and other NASA sites in person. Kennedy Space Center is a large visitor complex that serves as the tourist gateway to NASA’s Florida base. The center is the size of a small theme park, with numerous exhibit buildings and interactive rides that replicate some of the sensations astronauts experience when blasting off or floating through space. Perhaps the most spectacular display is the new Atlantis exhibit that opened last year to house the Space Shuttle Atlantis. For real space enthusiasts, the visitor center is just the jumping-off point for a tour of NASA’s operations. The two-hour Explorer Tour takes groups out onto restricted territory to see the assembly buildings, launch pads and runways used in dozens of shuttle missions. WHILE YOUíRE THERE: The space exploration facilities in this part of Florida are surrounded by waterways, forests and wetlands, as well as 72 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches and Indian River Lagoon. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the lakes, rivers and wetlands on various air boats or scenic cruisers, on kayak tours or while hiking in some of the nearby wildlife sanctuaries. MORE

INFO

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WWW.VISITSPACECOAST.COM

Up-close with NASA equipment at Kennedy Space Center

Screamin’ Gator Zipline at Gatorland in Kissimmee Courtesy Experience Kissimmee

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Space shuttle Atlantis Photos by Brian Jewell


Climbing 203 steps to the top of Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.

[ DESTINATION

#5

DAYTONA BEACH ]

HIGHLIGHT | A TREETOP TRAIL

Daytona Beach has made a name for itself through the decades as a coastal destination where sand, waves and resorts are the primary attractions. But your young travelers may get the most thrills out of a treetop adventure at Zoom Air. Located in Tuscawilla Park, an inland area lush with tropical plants and mature trees, Zoom Air is a zip line and aerial obstacle course that gives participants a chance to test their strength, balance and agility while snuggly harnessed to a safety line. There are three separate adventure courses at the park, and each takes about 45 minutes to complete. Each course features a number of “games,” such as swinging bridges, suspended planks and rope swings, that adventures must traverse to pass from one treetop platform to another. Scattered among the games are zip lines, giving riders a chance to lean back, enjoy the breeze and experience a bird’s-eye perspective of the area as they glide through the park. WHILE YOUíRE THERE: The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse offers visitors a look at a distinctive element of Florida history. Built in 1887, the 175-foot-high red brick lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and one of the tallest masonry lighthouses in the country. By Brian Jewell

MORE

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WWW.DAYTONABEACH.COM

Photo credit: Bruno Vega

With more than 2.5 million travelers visiting Peru’s 11 World Heritage Sites each year, it comes as no surprise that the country’s $168 million annual tourism revenue is on the rise. That’s why in 2011, Tourism Cares selected Peru for a sustainable tourism initiative that engaged peers from both the North American and Peruvian tourism industries to make an impact through volunteering and distributing $80,000 in grant funding.

THIS LLAMA IS VALUED AT $168 MILLION.

Join a growing roster of industry-leading companies committed to preserving the places we love and depend on.

Visit TourismCares.org to see how your company can help make global sustainable tourism a reality.


H IS T O RY H O S P ITA L IT Y AND

THE PAST IS ALWAYS PRESENT AT THESE DISTINCTIVE HOTELS

H

by

A SHLE Y RI CKS

ave you ever wanted to live a life of luxury, spending your days walking the halls of a mansion? Do you wonder what it was like to be an elite of an earlier time, spending your days traveling the country by rail and lodging in beautiful resorts? Across the country, picturesque hotels of the past catered to the upper classes and offered the creme de la creme of service in their day. Today, many boast impressive collections of art and guest lists filled with notable names. They have now been updated to include modern amenities while still showcasing the service and preserving the style that made them famous. Here are four historic hotels across the nation that will add the class and refinement of older eras to your next trip.

The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa features luxurious suites and historic rooms in the Spanish-Revival style.

Courtesy The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa

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The Martha has been a private residence, a women’s college, a field hospital and a hotel since it was built in 1832.

MISSION INN HOTEL AND SPA [ RIVERSIDE , CALIFORNIA ] When you look at its current grandeur, it’s hard to believe the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa began its life as a 12-room adobe boarding house. Since its start in 1876, the Spanish Revival-style hotel has grown to include 238 rooms and suites, as well as a spa, a shopping boutique and multiple eateries. Today it covers an entire city block. The Mission Inn is also well known for its weekly Sunday brunch, which brings in patrons from across the region. Frank Miller, the hotel’s founder, saw a need for a fine resort as wealthy Americans and Europeans flocked to Riverside for its comfortable climate and profitable citrus industry. Miller opened the hotel’s Spanish Revival-style Mission Wing in 1903 and followed it with subsequent additions — the Cloister, the Spanish and the Rotunda wings — through 1931. Throughout the grounds are more than 400 bells from all over the world, some of which boast an incredible history. The Nanking Temple Bell came from China following the Boxer Rebellion and can be seen in the Las Campanas restaurant. Louis Comfort Tiffany, the famous stained-glass artisan, once tried to buy the bell and even wrote a blank check to Miller in his attempts, but the bell ultimately remained at the inn. Also on display is the oldest dated bell in history, dating to 1247. To hear the full story behind this National Historic Landmark and the items of note on the property, groups should consider taking one of the Mission Inn Foundation and Museum tours. Guided tours are offered daily from the Mission Inn museum located at the corner of Main Street and Mission Inn Avenue. www.missioninn.com

By Jason Barnette Photography, courtesy Abingdon CVB

The Allegorical Window overlooks the entrance to the Grand Hall of the Union Station Hotel.

Courtesy St. Louis Union Station Hotel

The he Strater Sttrater Hotel hotel e brings brings Western We W stern rn heritage heritaage hotel an and nd history hiisto story ry to llif life ife for forr its i guests. gu g est estss. .

THE STRATER HOTEL [ DURANGO, COLORADO ] The Strater Hotel was built during a time when the small town of Durango, Colorado, was teetering on the precipice of a population boom or a mining bust. The local pharmacist, Henry Strater, believed the area would prosper and built the hotel that became the town’s unofficial center. Since many Durango townspeople were unable to heat their homes during the harsh Colorado winters, they would close them and move into the hotel during the cold season. Throughout the rest of the year it was a popular meeting space for the locals, who visited even more frequently when the second owners added opera performances and fine dinners for the frontier town. Fans of Western literature will enjoy the history of Room 222, also known as the Louis L’Amour room. The famous author would frequently request this room above the Diamond Belle Saloon and wrote many of his novels while staying at the hotel. The Strater Hotel is known today for its collection of antique Victorian walnut furniture, the largest of its type in the world. Since the 1980s, the Barker family, who own the hotel, have been working to restore and preserve the history of this landmark. Earl and Jentra Barker began the process of updating to include modern amenities along with period features, such as the furniture collection they began. When remodeling the hotel’s public spaces, the couple’s son, Roderick, has paid particular attention to detail by partnering with a master woodworker and installing hand-printed Bradbury and Bradbury wallpapers to preserve the Strater’s original Victorian feel. Guests staying at the Durango are perfectly situated to explore the ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at nearby Mesa Verde National Park in Mesa Verde or enjoy a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that runs between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. www.strater.com

Courtesy Strater Hotel

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 25


UNION STATION HOTEL [ ST. LOUIS ] The St. Louis Union Station Hotel was originally an intercity train terminal in downtown St. Louis that opened in 1894. The station was home to 42 tracks and formerly serviced 22 railroads. When it was operational, it was the largest and busiest train station in the world, with around 10,000 passengers a day passing through its walls during its peak in the 1940s. When the station was built, it was the largest and most ornate train terminal in the country, even beating out the more commonly known Grand Central Station in New York. The Grand Hall features gold leaf, stained-glass windows and Romanesque arches underneath a magnificent 65-foot-high vaulted ceiling. The most notable of the hall’s stained-glass pieces is a pane of Tiffany glass that overlooks the entrance to the Grand Hall. The piece is known as the “Allegorical Window” and features three ladies representative of the three famous terminals in the United States during the 1890s — New York, St. Louis and San Francisco. The personifications of the other two cities are looking toward St. Louis in the center as she faces out toward the Hall’s interior. In 1985, Union Station officially opened as a resort property. Today the space is the largest historic reuse project completed in the United States and features four ballrooms and multiple attractions and dining options, all on one property. Guests will enjoy the three-dimensional light show that is projected across the vast ceiling space of the Grand Hall. In 2017, the Union hotel will be opening even more rooms featuring the train theme and also a train park. The St. Louis Aquarium is scheduled to open at Union Station in 2018. www.stlouisunionstation.com MARTHA WASHINGTON HOTEL AND SPA [ ABINGDON, VIRGINIA ] The story of the Martha Washington Hotel starts with Gen. Robert Preston. The general built the original brick residence as a home for his family when he retired from military service following his successes of the War of 1812. Today, the home of General Preston, his wife and nine children is the central structure of the hotel, with their living room serving as the main lobby. Preston’s home was sold in 1858 and went on to become an upscale women’s college known as Martha Washington College. The school operated until the outbreak of the Civil War. When the fighting reached Abingdon, the students became nurses and the school was turned into a field hospital for the wounded of both sides. Following the war, classes resumed at The Martha, as locals referred to the college. Unfortunate circumstances again plagued the school when the Great Depression caused its doors to close for good. At one point, the building was used to house actors and actresses performing at the Barter Theater across the street. After a period of unuse, The Martha officially became a hotel in1935. The Martha has received many notable guests, such as Presidents Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter, as well as other luminaries, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Lady Bird Johnson and Elizabeth Taylor. A recent renovation preserved its original architecture and fixtures but included upgrades for modern amenities. The building’s historicity has also been maintained through the display of period antiques and furnishings, including the Dutch Baroque grandfather clock that belonged to one of the Preston daughters that still adorns the lobby. www.themartha.com 26

going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]


BOARDWALK T H E S E D E S T INATIO NS O FFER C LA S S IC S E ASI DE FUN

T HI S

WAY by

E L I Z A M YE R S

Mariner’s Pier rides on the Wildwood Boardwalk Courtesy Greater Wildwood Tourism Improvement

T

he contrast could not be more stark: On one boardwalk, you experience an explosion of color, sounds and motion. On another, you bask in the serenity of untouched nature perfect for religious reflections. So what do some of America’s most beloved boardwalks have in common? They all draw visitors for their seemingly endless ocean views and easy beach access. Church groups with both youth and the young at heart will enjoy the wacky thrills of the amusement park boardwalks, which often feature brand-new rides as well as historic attractions. Calmer boardwalks with some attractions and some areas of quiet can appeal to groups of all ages. Whether your faith-based group desires the zany fun of a full-blown amusement park or a more peaceful stroll down the beach, these American boardwalks will delight. Candy apples on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Courtesy Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ] 27


THE WILDWOODS, NEW JERSEY Imagine the adrenaline high of riding a giant monster truck on the beach with all the roaring sounds and power that goes with it. The Wildwood Boardwalk offers this noisy experience along with about two miles of shops, eateries, arcades and amusement parks. “The only way I can describe it is the scents, sights and sounds of pure sensory overload,” said Ben Rose, director of marketing and public relations for Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement. “It takes you back to what a Jersey boardwalk was like in its heyday. It hasn’t changed much, except there are new attractions each year.” With more rides than Disneyland, The Wildwoods draw 250,000 people on the boardwalk during its peak season. The Wildwood Boardwalk remains one of the country’s last great seaside promenades with three amusement piers and two water parks. Since its modest beginnings as a 150-yard walkway in the 1890s, the boardwalk has become a symbol of Americana pop culture, with doo-wop-style architecture preserved in many structures. The Sightseer Tram Cars always make an impression with guests and are known for their classic announcement, “Watch the tram car, please.” Originally built for the 1939 World’s Fair, the cars have ferried guests up and down the boardwalk since 1949. The wholesome atmosphere especially appeals to church groups. “I think we’re the only boardwalk with an active chapel that conducts services throughout the day,” said Rose. “The Boardwalk Chapel seats about 100 to 125 people, with a pastor that is very dedicated.” Even the Wildwood Boardwalk retains some quiet from the hours of 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., when the city allows bikes on the boardwalk. Groups can rent bikes, stop for breakfast and continue alongside the beach for an up-to-six-mile round-trip ride. www.wildwoodsnj.com LONG BEACH, WASHINGTON With dune grasses on one side and the Pacific’s thundering waves on the other, the Long Beach Boardwalk creates the illusion of complete isolation despite its location a short walk from town. “It’s really a natural, serene experience as opposed to a carnival boardwalk,” said Drew Foster, marketing communications coordinator for the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. “It’s different from other boardwalks in that it isn’t lined with businesses or rides. It’s lined with interpretive panels and nature.” This popular boardwalk often appears on lists of America’s best boardwalks despite its divergence from other more active sites, since the half-mile trail offers stunning panoramas and wildlife-viewing opportunities at a very accessible location. Church groups walking the short boardwalk can watch for interpretive panels to point out shipwreck locations, wildlife and the North Head Lighthouse. Visitors should also watch the skies for eagles, peregrine falcons and colorful kites, as the boardwalk hosts the annual Washington State International Kite Festival each August. Guests looking for a longer hike can follow the connecting eight-mile-long Discovery Trail, which commemorates the beach where Lewis and Clark finally reached the Pacific Ocean. The trail runs through forest groves and overlooks and ends in downtown Ilwaco, Washington. After the tranquil walk, groups can experience the excitement of nearby Long Beach’s downtown. “Long Beach is your quintessential childhood beach town,” said Foster. “There’s everything from seafood to saltwater taffy and ice cream shops. We have go-karts, bumper cars and carnival rides.” www.funbeach.com

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MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA To breathe new life into its Grand Strand beachfront, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, built a 1.2-mile-long boardwalk in 2010 that now serves as its unconventional downtown. “What I love about the boardwalk is that it is located in the nostalgic part of Myrtle Beach,” said Ursula Grant, meeting and convention sales manager for the Myrtle Beach CVB. “The original beach arcade is still open. It takes you back to childhood fun.” The downtown centers on Plyler Park, which hosts events such as Hot Summer Nights. Running from June through the end of August, the summerlong celebration features live concerts, a carnival and weekly fireworks displays. Numerous attractions lie farther down the Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk, among them Family Kingdom amusement park. The park is easily spotted for its massive Skywheel, Slingshot and Twist ’n’ Shout rides. Restaurants, souvenir shops, and roaming stilt walkers, jugglers and bagpipers add to the walk’s festive feel. Groups can choose among typical carnival foods or opt for more upscale places like the Pier House Restaurant. Though all these attractions may give the impression the boardwalk is overrun with activity, different portions of the boardwalk can seem like an escape. “It’s a great spot for church groups that want to relax and get some dinner,” said Grant. “You can get away from the hustle and bustle of Myrtle Beach.” From the boardwalk, groups can also quickly access Myrtle Beach’s other top attractions, such as golf courses and Broadway at the Beach’s 350-acre entertainment complex. www.visitmyrtlebeach.com SANTA CRUZ , CALIFORNIA At the end of the 1800s, Santa Cruz, California, local Fred W. Swanton had a vision: a Coney Island of the West. His idea materialized in 1907 with the opening of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which has become one of the last classic seaside amusement parks in the country. Today, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk continues to entertain guests on a stretch of northern California beach that continues to grow. “The park has been there for 109 years, so we’re really proud of our history,” said Chuck Ryder, director of sales for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. “We have a mix of old history as well as new rides brought in every year.” Two beloved rides designated National Historic Landmarks still bring smiles to riders each day. The 1911 Looff Carousel takes guests round and round to the tune of its original 342-pipe organ, which dates back to 1894. The other historic treasure, the Giant Dipper roller coaster, is not only an iconic image of the boardwalk but has also been featured in several movies, including “Sudden Impact,” “The Lost Boys” and “Dangerous Minds.” Groups can learn more about the kitschy boardwalk’s history on the second floor of the entertainment center Neptune’s Kingdom, where free exhibits chronicle the site’s first 100 years. The park also offers a Historic Walking Tour brochure, plus 18 interpretive signs. The park delivers more than a history lesson, however. Its focus is producing laughs and screams at its various attractions and rides, including the Haunted Castle, the Casino Arcade and Neptune’s Kingdom, which houses mini golf, pool tables and other indoor fun. The park regularly welcomes faith-based groups at events like the Boardwalk Beach Blitz, where regional youth ministries gather to encounter God and fellowship with other teens. Church groups can choose from a number of park packages, including an all-day ride wristband, a private buffet area and private beach games. www.beachboardwalk.com


Long Beach Boardwalk

Myrtle Beach’s Skywheel

With our hearts we welcome you.

Courtesy Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau

Cou sy Myr Courtesy My Myrtle tle Beach Beach a Ar Area ea CVB

Virginia Beach’s three-mile boardwalk

Host for 2017 Going on Faith Conference Share our heritage. Share our beauty.

Courtesy Virginia Beach CVB

VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA A 20-foot-tall, 12-ton King Neptune stands tall over the Virginia Beach Boardwalk as if it presided over the lovely stretch of coastline and attractions. The well-known bronze statue is not only one of the most photographed places in Virginia Beach, it is also one of many sculptures and works of art scattered along the three-mile-long boardwalk. The handicapped-accessible boardwalk boasts numerous monuments, nautical sculptures, museums and historic sites alongside the more traditional carnival attractions and restaurants. Church groups can add a stop at the Old Coast Guard Station for an understanding of Virginia’s maritime heritage or at the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum for demonstrations of waterfowl-carving techniques. Just taking a stroll down the boardwalk can prove a learning experience, since the Virginia Legends Walk lies along the route with information about some of the state’s most famous citizens, such as Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Edgar Allan Poe and Ella Fitzgerald. The boardwalk began attracting visitors in 1888 and remained popular throughout the years. By the early 1900s, Virginia Beach had established itself as a vacation destination with celebrities like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bette Davis and Judy Garland making appearances. The boardwalk stays busy today with amusement park rides, a video arcade and outdoor stages. These stages come to life during the summer months with frequent live concerts. www.visitvirginiabeach.com

www.VisitAmishCountry.com

1-877-643-7875

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GERMANY

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of Germany’s most-photographed places.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS: Learn about the history of the Berlin Wall or the victims commemorated at the Holocaust Memorial. For those interested in architecture, Cologne Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece, and Aachen Cathedral stands as the oldest cathedral in all of northern Europe. From September to October each year, thousands of visitors flock to celebrate the beer festival of Oktoberfest in Munich.

GREAT FOR CHURCH GROUPS: Combine history with nature along the Luther Trail, which follows the highlights of Martin Luther’s life from the locations of his birth and death to the church door where he nailed his 95 Theses. Visit the grave of Pope Clement II in Bamberg, or witness rare Jewish treasures in the cellar of Erfurt’s historic synagogue.

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TRAVEL GUIDE

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Courtesy German National Tourist Board

S AVA N N AH OSBOR N

istorically called “the land of poets and thinkers,” Germany has long-served as a pioneer in art and science, producing great minds such as Albert Einstein, Ludwig van Beethoven and Karl Marx. With dramatic nightlife in the cities, and beautiful castles throughout its forests, Germany is full of dynamic scenery and culture.

RESEARCHING

your TRIP

German National Tourist Board 212-661-7200 www.germany.travel

going on faith [ october | november 2016 ]

HIDDEN TREASURES: Stroll through Berlin’s Erholungspark Marzahn, the largest Asian-style garden outside of China, or explore one of the museums dedicated to Nietzsche, Liszt, Goethe and others in Weimar, which was once the center of the German Enlightenment. Looming over the Bavarian Forest, the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein inspired the castle in Walt Disney’s film “Sleeping Beauty.”

UNIQUE SOUVENIRS: Some of the souvenirs offered along these religious routes are Martin Luther beer, Martin Luther cookie cutters, Bamberger Bavarian beer mugs, blessed Wieschurch candles and Bell Bean seeds, which were sown throughout Erfurt for centuries.


IRELAND MAJOR ATTRACTIONS: Drive along the scenic coastline of the wild Atlantic or sample a pint of Guinness beer in Dublin. Other prominent attractions include the Cliffs of Moher, Killarny National Park, Ireland’s renowned golf courses, Old Jameson Distillery, St. Patrick Cathedral and the passage graves in the Brú na Bóinne region, which predate the pyramids of Egypt.

GREAT FOR CHURCH GROUPS: Hike the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick, where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days at the summit, or stop by Our Lady of the Knock Shrine, which marks the location where the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John are said to have appeared. Clonmacnoise Monastery is where the last high king of Ireland is buried.

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Famous religious sites in Ireland include Clonmacnoise Monastery (left) and St. Patrick Cathedral (right).

HIDDEN TREASURES: Try your hand at flying falcons at Dromoland Castle, examine the intricate Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin, or learn about the construction of the ill-fated Titanic at Titanic Belfast. An additional treat is the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, which leaves nightly from Duke Street and features tributes to many of Ireland’s great authors at each pub.

UNIQUE SOUVENIRS: Some of Ireland’s most beloved keepsakes include Celtic art, ceramics, pottery, chocolate, Irish whiskey, Aran sweaters, Avoca woolen throws, Claddagh rings, traditional Irish drums and books from native authors like Joyce and Wilde.

TRAVEL GUIDE

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Courtesy Tourism Ireland

icknamed “The Emerald Isle” for its lush terrain, Ireland offers both vivid scenery and rich cultural traditions. It has contributed to world-class literature with authors such as James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats and others. From the rugged coastal landscape of Connemara, which Wilde once described as having “savage beauty,” to the bustling birthplace of Guinness beer in Dublin, Ireland’s attractions never disappoint.

RESEARCHING

your TRIP

Ireland Tourism 212-418-0800 www.ireland.com

going on faith [ goingonfaith.com ]


ISRAEL

Travelers explore the Fortress of Masada in Israel.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS: Jerusalem’s most famous shrines are found on the Temple Mount, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Experience history in the Holocaust memorial of Yad Vashem or the Shrine of the Book museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. For those inclined to explore the outdoors, visits to the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv and the mineral-rich Dead Sea will not disappoint.

GREAT FOR CHURCH GROUPS: Tour the Old City of Jerusalem, which features the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, where Christ was crucified. Other noteworthy sites are the Tomb of the Virgin Mary and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

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TRAVEL GUIDE

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Courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism

srael is home to some of the most treasured historical sites in the religious world, with the Holy City of Jerusalem as its centerpiece. From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Foundation Stone in the Dome of the Rock, this region contains an unparalleled collection of artifacts, architecture and scenery.

RESEARCHING

your TRIP

Israel Ministry of Tourism 646-779-6760 www.goisrael.com

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HIDDEN TREASURES: Stand on the edge of the Ramon Crater, explore the mountain fortress of Masada, or ride the world’s steepest cable car down to the vivid blue waters of Rosh Hanikra sea caves. From February to May each year, thousands of red anemones blossom throughout the Negev region, and they are celebrated with the Scarlet South Festival.

UNIQUE SOUVENIRS: While Jerusalem’s museums and gift shops offer plenty of souvenirs related to its religious landmarks, other local goods include Dead Sea products, prayer shawls, hamsa jewelry, olive wood carvings, wall hangings, Armenian ceramics, anointing oil from Jerusalem, Israeli clocks and pilgrim maps.


St. Peter’s Basilica is at the heart of Catholic heritage in Rome.

ITALY

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS: Trace the footprints of emperors in the Roman Coliseum, ride a gondola in Venice or get lost in the ruins of Pompeii. Along Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast, take a boat ride inside the glowing Blue Grotto on the island of Capri.

GREAT FOR CHURCH GROUPS: Trek over ancient cobblestones on the Via Francigena, where pilgrims have traveled for centuries en route to the tombs of apostles Peter and Paul, as well as Vatican City. Another significant landmark is the Holy House of Loreto, which is believed to have been the home of the Virgin Mary.

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TRAVEL GUIDE

HIDDEN TREASURES: Entrenched in a ravine near Sorrento, the Valley of Mills allows travelers to explore a collection of modern ruins. Visit the poetic Marmore waterfalls, the intricate gardens of Isola Bella or the Montagna Spaccata, also known as “the cracked mountain,” which is said to have split the moment Christ died on the cross.

UNIQUE SOUVENIRS: Some of Italy’s most popular mementos are Venetian masks, rosaries, leather gloves, fresh-pressed olive oil, dried porcini mushrooms and hand-blown glassworks. Make sure to pick up a bottle of limoncello, a lemon liqueur from southern Italy, or one of the local wines, such as Brunello di Montalcini.

W

Courtesy Italian Government Tourist Board

ith more Catholic churches per capita than any other country, Italy carries a unique religious heritage. Nearly every town celebrates its own patron saint and spiritual festivals. In addition, the country is home to half the world’s most beloved artwork, from artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, da Vinci and more. With orange groves, vivid coastline villages and winding cliff roads along the ocean, Italy is a colorful world of its own.

RESEARCHING

your TRIP

Italian National Tourist Board 212-245-5618 www.italiantourism.com

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Groups visiting Jordan can explore the interior of Ajloun Castle, which was built in the 1100s.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS: Explore the tombs and temples carved into pink sandstone in Petra, nicknamed the “Rose City,” or spend an afternoon floating in the Dead Sea. Other popular sites are the magnificent Wadi Rum desert, Hadrian’s Arch in the ruins of Jerash and the beach city of Aqaba, which offers some of the world’s best snorkeling along the Yamanieh coral reef.

GREAT FOR CHURCH GROUPS: Bethany Beyond the Jordan is where Jesus began his ministry and gathered his first disciples, while St. George’s Church contains the oldest map of Palestine in existence. Another treasured location is Mount Nebo, from which Moses saw the Promised Land before his death.

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TRAVEL GUIDE

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Courtesy Jordan Tourism Board

ocated in the heart of the Middle East, Jordan is known for its vibrant desert landscapes and beautifully preserved Byzantine relics. Many prominent biblical figures lived in this region, such as Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jesus and Paul, making Jordan a prevalent pilgrimage destination. The carefree attitude of local Bedouin nomads plays a large role in creating a friendly atmosphere that makes the country extraordinarily welcoming for tourists. From the ancient city of Petra to the Greco-Roman remains of Jerash, Jordan will transport you through time.

RESEARCHING

your TRIP

Jordan Tourism Board 877-733-5673 www.visitjordan.com

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HIDDEN TREASURES: Take a tour of the Desert Castles in the black basalt desert, spend the night under the desert stars with a local Bedouin tribe, or people watch in one of Amman’s cafes. The medieval estate of Ajloun Castle, with an impressive display of towers, moats and secret passageways, is also often overlooked.

UNIQUE SOUVENIRS: Look for Dead Sea products, painted ostrich eggs, kohl makeup, Bedouin dresses, sand art, mosaics, hand-painted pottery and traditional Jordanian red-and-white scarves, which are known as keffiyeh.


Tram cars offer historic tours of Lisbon.

PORTUGAL

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS: In addition to visiting Lisbon, Portugal’s historic capital, explore the winding alleys and medieval churches in Coimbra, or try a glass of the world-famous port wine in Porto. Out of Portugal’s innumerable castles, the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra is one of the country’s most breathtaking estates and features gardens and underground grottos.

GREAT FOR CHURCH GROUPS: Religious groups might visit the Sanctuary of Fatima, which commemorates the manifestation of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in 1917. The medieval Convent of Christ once sheltered the legendary Templar Knights, and the Monastery of Batalha is one of the finest specimens of Portuguese Gothic architecture.

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By Jose Manuel, courtesy Portuguese Tourist Office

HIDDEN TREASURES: Experience whale-watching and hot mineral springs on the volcanic islands of the Azores, or wander through the world’s largest laurel forests on Madeira Island, known as the “Floating Garden of the Atlantic.” The village of Monsanto displays houses between, on and underneath giant boulders.

UNIQUE SOUVENIRS: Portugal offers a variety of exquisite keepsakes, such as bright, floral pottery; hand-embroidered rugs; and Viana Filigree Heart Pendants. In Évora, located near the world’s largest cork forests, look for cork boots, bags, dresses and umbrellas.

ituated on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is renowned for its Gothic castles, lush landscapes and cobblestone villages. With appetizing coastline cuisine such as salted cod, spicy sausage and caramel custard, it is no wonder travelers are increasingly drawn to the country’s vibrant culture. Whether you relax on one of the golden beaches in Algarve or admire the ornate architecture throughout the cities, Portugal is always ready to offer a taste of the good life.

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Portuguese Tourist Office 646-723-0200 www.visitportugal.com

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St. Patrick’s

Ireland The Spiritual Journey through Ireland

Clonmacnoise, County Offaly

See the Emerald Isle through the eyes of its patron saint in the places he lived and preached. You’ll also experience Mass at the pilgrimage site Marian Shrine of Knock.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara

Offer the world to your travelers with journeys to seven continents.

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To learn about our extensive tour selection, call 800.762.5345 or your local Travel Agent. CST# 2006766-20 UBN# 601220855 Nevada Seller of Travel Registration No. 2003-0279

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Going On Faith October November 2016  

The Going On Faith October November 2016 issue features group travel ideas for international faith-travel, youth group trips to Florida, Col...

Going On Faith October November 2016  

The Going On Faith October November 2016 issue features group travel ideas for international faith-travel, youth group trips to Florida, Col...