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There are many different focuses for a Houston spiritual trip. It might be that your group is interested in learning about various faiths and so you want to explore synagogues, churches, mosques, and temples. Or perhaps the day’s focus is a retreat, with time and space to connect, rebalance, recharge. Frequently, people will gather in pilgrimages and travel to a new location. Are you a pastor or minister, scheduling out a mission trip for your teen group or your parishioners? With so many factors to organize— permission slips, chaperones, itineraries— a charter bus rental would allow you to cross one thing off of your list: carpool.
Gathering your group in one central location allows you time to focus on prayer, community-building, and icebreakers. Spiritual trips can afford you time to reconnect with what matters, an opportunity to learn more about your spiritual roots, or connection with people through serving others.
Organizing a spiritual trip can be complicated. Signing up participants, coordinating stops, making sure that the event is advertised at your church or temple. All of these things take time. Time that keeps you away from your congregation or community.
If you’re looking in Houston for places to check out that offer spiritual respite, here are highlights about some that might interest you. From an interfaith center to a Vietnamese-Buddhist temple, there is something for everyone in the rich and diverse city.
Rothko Chapel functions as an interfaith, non-denominational chapel; people of all faiths are welcome, and since its creation, it has served as a hub of conversation around justice, civil rights, and interfaith dialogue. Dominique and John de Menil commissioned the building and its art in 1964;The chapel features 14 original paintings by Mark Rothko. Three architects were involved in designing the unique octagonal-shaped building: Philip Johnson, Howard Barnstone, and Eugene Aubry.
Rothko Chapel also features a library of religious texts and spiritual books from many different faiths, including the Quran, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Bible, and the Kordeh Avesta. Biannually, the chapel also bestows the Óscar Romero Award on an individual who is working “under extraordinary circumstances to advance human rights.” The award includes a stipend. Annually, Rothko Chapel hosts about 100,000 visits. Whether you go for the art or the spirituality, you will not be disappointed.
In the heart of downtown Houston, Christ Church Cathedral is one of the oldest historical religious buildings in Houston. The original founding of the site was in 1839, by Colonel William Fairfax Gray, and the first, small church, was consecrated in 1847. An enlargement of the second building was completed in 1876, and today serves as the cathedral church for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Although the cathedral is the seat of the Episcopal diocese, from its inception, it has served people of many religions and races. The Cathedral holds regular services and is affiliated with a school, as well. There are over 3000 congregants. If you’d like to participate in services, there are five options on Sundays, and weekday services as well. Tours occur weekly on Sundays and during the weekdays, there are smaller tours available.
Teo-Chew Temple, a Vietnamese Buddhist temple is located on Turtlewood Ct, in Houston’s Chinatown, near Arthur Storey Park. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m daily. There is no charge for admission, however the temple is a place of worship, and so there are guidelines as far as what clothes you may wear. No shorts or tank tops are allowed. The site features a carved marble fountain that has statues of each of the twelve zodiac signs, and there are numerous statues commemorating different gods and goddesses. At the fountain, the main statue honors Quan Am, a bodhisattva who assists people with hardship and suffering. Throughout the temple, there are statues honoring 14 other gods and goddesses. There are benches, for sitting and for eating. Overall, the ambience is one of prayer and meditation, heavily scented with prayers carried on incense.
Lakewood Church is one of the largest congregations in the United States. Its senior pastor is Joel Osteen, who is well-known for his teachings on the prosperity gospel, as seen in his sermons, books, and televangelism. The church was founded by Joel’s father, John Osteen in the late 1950’s. Today the church resides at what used to be the Compaq Center, which holds 16,800 people— they have been there since 2005 and renovated the campus with an estimated expense of $100 million. The church has four English-language services and two Spanish-language services. In addition to the Sunday services, they also offer many focused ministries, including activities for high school students, youth, and volunteer events.