Via de Cristo is a Spanish phrase meaning “Way of Christ.” We have adopted this phrase to refer to a powerful, three-day retreat ministry. Our highly structured weekend retreats begin on Thursday evening and end on Sunday evening. They are designed to strengthen and renew the faith of Christian leaders and bring them to a new awareness of living in God’s grace. The weekends are led by lay people and supervised by clergy. Christians of all denominations are welcome.
The movement originated as “Cursillo” in the late 1940’s in the Spanish Catholic church and moved to the United States in the late 1950’s. It began in the Lutheran church when lay people and clergy attended a Catholic Cursillo in 1971, both in Iowa and Florida. The first Lutheran sponsored weekends were held in 1972 in Iowa and Florida and have now been held in over 25 states and some foreign countries. VIA de CRISTO is the Lutheran expression of this method, which is currently being used in many denominations including Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Reformed churches.
The Tennessee Lutheran Via de Cristo movement started when volunteers from the Western North Carolina movement joined with folks from Tennessee to provide a joint weekend in the Fall of 1997. Separate men’s and women’s weekends were held two weeks apart in the Spring of 1998, and the first Tennessee Lutheran Via de Cristo Mixed weekend was held in Fall 1998 at Carson Springs Baptist Camp in Newport, Tennessee.
The Tennessee Lutheran Via de Cristo Secretariat, our governing body, was formed in November 1999.