“The Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope was an experience that helped ground me into the truth of what it means to live in Durham with eyes wide open. During the pilgrimage, we did not shy away from the pain that people willingly and lawfully inflicted on others at Stagville Plantation, in the name of shrewd business. Nor did we neglect the glimpses of hope and resilience we saw in the founders of Black Wall St. and those in the Hayti community. We talked of what it means to have hope in the midst of pain as we read about Pauli Murray- a woman who seemed to do just that. I’m grateful for the time spent learning and discussing with fellow pilgrims. Thank you DurhamCares!” – Vanessa Hines, Pilgrimage Participant, 2016

About the Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope

Pilgrimage is an ancient spiritual practice that connects the journey of discipleship with particular places. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, but what does that look like in Durham? How would our spiritual journey be transformed if we came to know our city through the lens of pilgrimage, rather than simply a place where we happen to live and work? What would it look like to see Durham as a sacred space? DurhamCares, in partnership with the Duke Center for Reconciliation, invites you to take this journey by participating in the Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope. Through this opportunity, participants will immerse themselves in Durham’s story in all its challenges and strengths, reflecting on it theologically. Through this journey, participants emerge with a greater understanding of themselves, of God’s story, and of the story of Durham.

The Pilgrimage consists of two components:

  1. Weekend Immersion ­– a weekend where participants visit sites and hear from key leaders in Durham, learning its story. There will be time for reflection and prompting to engage with challenging questions about history, identity, and community. Meals will be provided.
  2. Pilgrim Journey Discussions – Participants will gather for two meetings before the weekend immersion to prepare for the immersion. It will be followed by three meetings for reflection. These will be lunch meetings unless the majority of the group would prefer a different time.

The cost of the pilgrimage is $100 for the whole weekend and five weekly gatherings, which includes meals, speakers, and admission to each of the sites. Scholarships are available so that the cost will not be prohibitive. There are 20 spots available, and we will make an intentional effort for the group to represent the diversity of our city. Our next pilgrimage weekend is October 20-22, 2017.

For more information, email Reynolds Chapman at We hope you can join us!

Sample Pilgrimage Itinerary (Taken from October Pilgrimage)

Friday Evening 

3-4pm – Preparation and discussion about Native American history in Durham
4pm-5:30pm – Guided “tour” of Stagville Plantation and Horton Grove
5:30pm-7pm – Dinner and reflection at Historic Stagville

Saturday Morning

9am-12pm – Walking pilgrimage of downtown – Pilgrims will spend the morning with a written guide and walk through downtown, stopping at the following sites along the way:
– Historic Parrish Street – start at Historical Marker on the corner of Mangum and Parrish Street and walk to the CCB Plaza (the bull statue)
– Durham Convention and Visitor’s Bureau – 212 W. Main Street
– Museum of Durham History – 500 W. Main Street
– Pauli Murray House – 906 Carroll Street
– Duke Memorial United Methodist Church – 504 West Chapel Hill Street

Saturday Afternoon 

12:00-1pm – Lunch at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church
1pm-1:45 Individual reflection time
1:45-3pm – Group reflection
3pm-5pm – Break

Saturday Evening 

5pm-7:00pm – Dinner and presentation by Melvin Speight of Speight’s Auto about Black Wall Street and the Hayti community


9:45am-11am – Presentation by Virginia Williams, who was part of the 1957 Royal Ice Cream Sit In
11am-12:30pm – Worship at Union Baptist Church – 904 N. Roxboro Street
12:30pm-2:15pm – Lunch and presentation by Imael Ruiz-Millan about the Hispanic community in Durham
2:30pm-4pm – Panel discussion: “Durham Then, Durham Now” with Joye Speight, Pastor Herbert Davis and Adam Clark

What participants say about the pilgrimage:
“This was so incredible.”
“Becoming acquainted with the older history of Durham via Stagville helps me remember that the life I am living here in Durham is part of a larger story. Visiting Stagville helped me put my Durham story into context within the larger Durham story.”
“I am so grateful for the time we spent with Virginia (Williams). What a gift it was to hear from her.”
“WOW. Meeting [Virginia Williams] was inspiring, exciting and empowering. I wish we had more time with her. Talking with her was a treasure – and the highlight of our time.”
“I found myself wrestling with my internal tension differently. There were so many things I learned that really bothered me about our shared history. I felt outraged and angry. Frustrated and confused. But rather than staying angry, I was able pray about how to channel my emotions. It was powerful.”
“The most valuable part was making connections with the wonderful people in our group.”
“This was AWESOME.”