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The Emmaus Program

Emmaus is a holistic, immersive and communal discipleship program.

Jesus calls us to follow him with our whole selves — body, soul, mind and spirit. In Emmaus we take this call seriously.

But following Jesus can be hard, especially in today’s world, especially as a college student.

This is why in Emmaus we dedicate one year to live in intentional Christian community. During this year of communal living we commit to a rhythm of spiritual practices, worship, theological reflection and service. In other words, we commit to following Jesus with our whole selves.

In the process, we will grow in our love for God, develop more robust spiritual lives and be transformed in the image of Christ. In short, we will learn what it means to be faithful disciples of Jesus.

Applications for the 2023-24 Emmaus cohort will be available in October 2022.

What you will do in Emmaus

Emmaus is designed for all students of all majors and all church backgrounds. 

During your year in Emmaus you will...

  • Live in intentional Christian community in the Emmaus Houses near campus with other students for one academic year
  • Practice a consistent weekly routine of communal prayer
  • Read the Bible regularly and prayerfully
  • Worship God through song
  • Memorize Scripture
  • Enjoy weekly communal meals
  • Share your love for Jesus with the campus and the world through acts of service
  • Connect with community and faith leaders in the Spokane area
  • Reflect theologically on what it means to be a follower of Jesus in today’s world
  • Receive one-on-one mentorship from a professor
  • Participate in a dynamic spring break service-learning trip
  • Eat, play, sing and simply enjoy life together with other students in the Emmaus cohort!

Interested in being in Emmaus during the 2023-24 school year? 

Questions? Want to chat about the program to see if it's right or you? Please reach out to an "Emmaus Ambassador." The ambassdors are current Whitworth students who are involved in the Emmaus Program. 

Dawson Gilbert (

Elianah Brenner (

Elysee Kazadi (

Saul Cuddy (

You may also reach out to Emmaus Director Derek Taylor

Applications for the 2023-24 school year will become available in October 2022

About the name "Emmaus"

At the end of Luke's Gospel (24:13-35), two of Jesus' followers encounter a stranger as they walk toward the village of Emmaus. Under the stranger's guidance, the disciples dwell on the story of God's faithfulness told throughout Scripture. Not wanting the stranger to go on alone, they invite him into their home. When they sit down together to break bread, their world is turned upside down. They see that this stranger is Jesus himself. This gift is simultaneously a task, for the disciples are immediately compelled to share the good news with others. In these ways, the Emmaus story provides a compelling model for Christian discipleship. Following Jesus requires us to care for the stranger, to think deeply about Scripture, to gather in community and to participate in God's mission of redemption. This holistic pattern of discipleship is our Emmaus Way.

Meet the Emmaus Faculty Director

After graduating from Whitworth, Derek received a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Th.D. from Duke University. Derek is married to Lauren, the campus pastor for discipleship & residence hall ministry here at Whitworth. Lauren and Derek spend most of their free time chasing their young sons Theo and Micah, going on hikes with their dog Charlie (who is by all objective standards the best dog in the world) and cooking up something fun in the kitchen. If Derek isn't doing these things, you might find him working in Whitworth's Kipos community garden, watching Duke basketball or finding ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Along with directing the Emmaus Program, Derek also teaches theology here at Whitworth. He is especially interested in the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the intersection of theology and ecology, and scriptural hermeneutics (which is a fancy way of saying "how to read the Bible"). Derek also has a deep passion for coffee, so if you'd like to chat over a cup, just shoot him an email!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be in Emmaus and other extracurricular activities like sports, music, drama, etc.?

Yes! Emmaus is designed to complement a number of other activities and responsibilities. Every member of the Emmaus community has friends, classes and activities outside of Emmaus, and my hope is that you will continue to invest in these. In Emmaus we do our best to be flexible and make room for these other commitments. 

What coursework is required for Emmaus?

In Emmaus, students will take up to two courses together with other Emmaus students.

During Fall Term, students in Emmaus take a course that focuses on the theology of spirituality, community and Christian life. This course will meet once per week in the evening. The credits from this course can count toward a theology major or minor. This course can also be taken as an audit, i.e., for no official credit. In Emmaus we do our best to accommodate students who have a full credit load. Please reach out to Derek ( if you have questions about your situation. 

During Spring Term, we take a course that focuses on the theology of justice and diversity. This course is taken as a normal 3-credit course; pass/fail is accepted. This course satisfies the "Faith, Reason, and Contemporary Issues" (FRCI) general education requirement and counts toward a theology major or minor. This course can also satisfy one of the requirements for the Ministry Endorsement Program.

What type of students are in Emmaus?

There are many types of students in Emmaus. The program is designed for students from all church backgrounds and all majors (most students in Emmaus are not theology majors). The one common denominator is a commitment to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are a part of or what style of worship you prefer. It doesn’t matter if you are new to faith or if you have been a Christian your whole life. It doesn't matter if you have taken theology courses before or if you are just beginning to explore your faith. What matters is that you take your faith seriously and desire to devote your whole self to Jesus.  

How many students are in Emmaus?

Emmaus consists of between 10-20 students, depending on the year.

Does Emmaus cost anything?

No. The costs associated with living in the Emmaus Houses are the same as those associated with living in other Neighborhoods Houses. Note: Students living in Neighborhoods Houses are not required to be on an official meal plan, so students in Emmaus often save money by cooking for themselves. Specific questions about on-campus living costs can be answered through Residence Life.

Emmaus activities (like Emmaus family meals, hospitality events and retreats) are covered by the Emmaus budget and are not the students’ responsibility. 

Is any financial assistance available for students in Emmaus?

Each year as many three $2,400 scholarships may be available. These scholarships are intended specifically for first-generation college students or students who demonstrate financial need. If you are curious about applying for this scholarship, please reach out to Derek ( 

Can I be in Emmaus with my friends?

Yes, we encourage you to apply with friends! However, we can’t guarantee that all of your friends will be accepted. If you are accepted into Emmaus, you will have an opportunity to express your preference for your roommate.

Can I be in Emmaus and be the Neighborhoods RA?

Yes! You can apply to be the Neighborhoods RA through the residence life office. 

What sort of community service does Emmaus do?

On average, students in Emmaus will serve about 6-8 hours per month. A variety of service opportunities will be available to students. If you are already actively involved with an off-campus service-learning site, you will be able to continue serving at this site.

Does the Emmaus Faculty Director live in the Emmaus Neighborhoods Houses?

No. But the Emmaus director lives only a few blocks away. The Emmaus director will regularly participate in communal prayer, the Emmaus family meal and other activities.