The first Hope, Indiana, Moravians to experience a Cursillo were Don and Eloise Golden and Reverend Al and Lois Harke. The Moravian Cursillo West (MCWEST) entered Wisconsin in 1980. In 1981, the Golden’s and Harke’s attended their Cursillo at Watertown, Wisconsin. Several Indiana and Illinois Moravians made Cursillos in Wisconsin over the next several years. In 1985, Wisconsin Cursillistas worked jointly with Illiana folk to host the first Moravian Cursillo West in Indiana, near Lafayette.
Soon, the central Ohio Moravians joined with the Illianians to host several weekends at Camp Moneto, just east of Nashville, Indiana. Wisconsin began to call their movement Diaspora, and by fall of 1987, the Illiana movement became known as Journey Through Faith. The movement was organized by a Steering committee representing the Moravian churches involved – Bethany (Indianapolis), West Salem, and Hope. Also, the Moravian churches of Haverford (Indianapolis) and Church of the Redeemer (Dublin, OH) and the Methodist churches of Hope and Columbus (Asbury) have participated.
As others in Ohio became involved in the movement, a group in Ohio decided to work together to offer the weekend experience in a more local location. In 2006, weekends were begun in Ohio with the help of the Indiana JTF community. The weekends are held at Camp Zimmerman, near Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Ohio’s group is known as the Ohio Community of Faith. Travelers from both venues are welcome (and encouraged) to help at both spring and fall weekends. Although there are differences in the weekends because one is held at a church and the other is at a camp, each weekend follows the same schedule and has the same activities.
The movement is ecumenical, and the people of many denominations have not only participated, but held leadership positions with the organization. The Journey Through Faith/Cursillo movement is recognized by Moravian Christian Education as a continuing program for congregational growth.
Cursillo was begun in Spain by progressive Catholics who had lived through World War II. It was designed by Catholic leadership to empower Christians to effectively live the Christian life in the real world. The word “cursillo” means “short course” and a Cursillo is a short course in Christianity. More specifically, it is a three-day retreat intended to review the Christian ideal, Christian thought, and faith. It is to help individuals draw closer to Christ through study, discussion, prayer, communion, and friendship. It is to help Christians grow in apostolic maturity and to develop and sustain one’s personal Christian mission in society.
Cursillo is an organized attempt to prepare mature, apostolic leadership that would not only change the Roman Catholic Church, but also the worldwide body of believers. The vision of the early Cursillo was to enable committed disciples to Christianize every area of their lives and ultimately evangelize the world. Individually, the weekend is intended to be an encounter with the living Christ, in which the participant becomes a part of the community abounding in God’s grace, that can then be translated into the traveler’s every day home, church, work, and recreational environment.
The Cursillo Movement entered the U.S. in 1957 due to the initiative of two Spanish Air Cadets stationed in Texas. At first, the short course was for men only, but the desire to share their joy in Christ with their spouses led to women’s weekends (and it remains a general rule that a wife not attend before her husband). The Catholic Cursillo did not limit participation to Catholics; and over time, an agency of the United Methodist Church, the Upper Room, sponsored two model Cursillos in Peoria, Illinois, under the guidance and leadership of the Catholic Church. In 1981, by mutual agreement with the National Secretariat of the Roman Catholic Cursillo Movement and the Upper Room, the Walk to Emmaus was born. Thus, the Cursillo became a truly ecumenical tool in energizing disciples for ministry in local congregations.