Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope

The Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope is an opportunity to discover how your spiritual journey is connected to the place you live – Durham, NC. Through the pilgrimage you will immerse yourself in the story of the city and the Biblical story as you reflect with others on what it means for how you live your life in Durham. Join us for this transformative experience connecting Durham’s story, your story and God’s story.

2023 Pilgrimage Dates

Open Pilgrimages (anyone can register)

March 10th-12th, 2023

October 20th-22nd, 2023

Custom Pilgrimages (reserved for designated groups)

Duke Chapel: February 24th-26th, 2023

Duke Memorial UMC: April 21st-23rd, 2023

Pilgrim UCC & Mt. Calvary UCC: April 28th-30th, 2023

Raleigh Vineyard: October 13th-15th, 2023


“For the first time in my journey – my faith, pain and hope can join a river of movement for a purpose that is greater than my life…I am deeply grateful.”
“The pilgrimage helped remind me that my place is bigger than just my house. Durham is my home.”
“This will serve as a monument throughout my time in Durham…the best next step in my journey. There’s a lot I’ve been learning since I moved here…The pilgrimage grounded that as well as spurred it on to more depth and seriousness.”

“It confirmed for me that God is in the racial conversation and that He wants me to be a part of it. I think He is working to bring healing and reconciliation to people today.”
“I had never really thought about how God’s story, my story, and Durham’s story were all intertwined. Now I think about that a lot!”
“This was so incredible.”

“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!”

“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.”

Main Components

1. Weekend Immersion ­

A weekend where participants visit sites and hear from key leaders in Durham, learning its story. There is 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 meetings before the weekend immersion to prepare for the journey, and after the immersion for reflection.

3. Pilgrimage Alumni Network

Pilgrimage is more than a one-time experience – it is a way of life. That’s why we help pilgrimage alumni stay connected through a communication network and gatherings throughout the year.

4. Pilgrim Life Events

The values that are learned through the Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope continue to be cultivated through smaller events that help connect Durham’s story, your story and God’s story. See the announcements section and our events page for upcoming Pilgrim Life Events.

The cost of the Weekend Immersion and Pilgrim Journey Discussions is $150, which includes all 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 notify registrants if they are selected. DurhamCares can also organize a customized pilgrimage for your group at a different cost. Contact Rev. Williams if you’re interested at [email protected]


The Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope Video Curriculum is a complete video series based on the transformative Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope Weekend Immersion. While the Video Curriculum is not a substitute for the Weekend Immersion, it deepens the journey for people who have been on the Weekend Immersion and provides a pilgrimage-based opportunity for those unable to participate in the Weekend Immersion.

We hope to complete the curriculum by December 2021. If you would like be notified when it is complete, please sign up below.


We have scheduled all pilgrimages for 2021 and 2022. If your group would like us to organize a Pilgrimage for you in 2023, contact Rev. Williams at [email protected]

DurhamCares Executive Director Reynolds Chapman writes about pilgrimage in the Church Health Reader. Read reflections from two pilgrimage participants here.

Keith Daniel writes about pilgrimage in Faith and Leadership.

DurhamCares can organize a custom pilgrimage for your
church, organization, or any group


sample pilgrimage itinerary


Meet at Stagville Plantation to prepare for the Pilgrimage Weekend

4:00-5:30 pm
Member of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation on Native American history in Durham

5:30-7:00 pm
Stagville Historical Tour

7:00-8:30 pm
Dinner at Stagville with guided reflection

8:45 am-12:00 pm
Meet at ReCity for guided walking pilgrimage of downtown Durham

  • Parrish Street
  • Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Durham History Hub
  • Duke Memorial United Methodist Church
  • Pauli Murray Mural
  • Former Woolworths/One City Center
  • NC Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • Carolina Theater Exhibit
12:00-12:45 pm
Lunch at ReCity

12:45-1:45 pm
Personal Reflection time at ReCity and Central Park

1:45-3:00 pm
Virginia Williams, participant in the 1957 Royal Ice Cream Sit-In

3:00-5:30 pm


5:30-7:30 pm
Hayti Heritage Center with leader from the Hayti Community


7:30 am
Worship at an historical Durham church

9:30 am
Guided reflection at ReCity

12:00 pm
Lunch and presentation from the Latina/o community

2:00-2:30 pm

2:30-4:00 pm
Durham Then, Durham Now Panel 

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