The Walk to Emmaus is an adaptation of the Roman Catholic Cursillo (pronounced cur-SEE-o) Movement, which originated in Spain in 1949. Cursillo de Cristianidad means "little course in Christianity." The original Cursillo leaders designed the program an an instrument of spiritual renewal, to empower persons to transform their living and working environments into Christian environments. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Episcopalians and Lutherans, along with several nondenominational groups, such as Tres Dias, began to offer Cursillo. A Cursillo is an encounter with Christ in which the participant becomes part of a beautiful community abounding on God's grace.
The Ecumenical Emmaus Movement
In 1978, The Upper Room of the General Board of Discipleship adapted the program for a primarily Protestant audience and began to offer it under the name The Upper Room Cursillo. In 1981, The Upper Room made further adaptations and changed the name of the program to The Upper Room Walk to Emmaus. In 1984, The Upper Room developed a youth expression of Emmaus called Chrysalis.
San Diego Emmaus Movement
In May of 1985 the first Walk to Emmaus was held in San Diego at Wesley United Methodist Church. This Emmaus Community was greatly aided by help from the Southern California Emmaus Community located in the Los Angeles area and by contributions from the Catholic and Episcopal Cursillo Communities in San Diego.