During the six weeks of Lent, First Presbyterian Church embarked on an imaginary 6,728-mile walk from Washington Court House to Jerusalem, Israel.
The members of the church logged miles through physical exercise and spiritual practices. Every 20 minutes of walking, chair exercises, yoga, working out at the gym, prayer, bible study or community service counted as one mile. Church members recorded their miles on an official tally sheet and turned them in each Sunday. The logged miles from each person were then added together to move the church along on its journey to Jerusalem.
“It was an incredible bonding experience for the church as we worked together to make it to our destination,” said Pastor Gray Marshall. “The program provided us an opportunity to work on both the mind and soul during the season of Lent.”
To collect more miles each week, the congregation offered gentle yoga during weekday mornings and weekly walks with the pastor around downtown Washington Court House. “Our goal was to cover the entire journey, all 6,728 miles, by Easter,” said Marshall.
The Walk to Jerusalem program was created in 2003 by Nancy Evans, RN, for St. John Providence Health System in Warren, Mich. The program was designed to increase the physical, spiritual, and emotional health of its participants.
“The program allows the church to be very creative and imaginative as you accrue miles” said Marshall.
First Presbyterian used a blank wall to post pictures of each destination city on the walk along with a short write-up on those cities. As they passed each city, a pair of footprints was placed on the pictures to signify their progress. Pastor Marshall also took time during Sunday worship to give short travelogues from their imaginary journey.
After seven weeks, First Presbyterian Church collected 8,021 miles surpassing their goal by almost 1,300 miles.
“We made it to Jerusalem, the city where Jesus’ resurrection was first witnessed and then had enough miles to start making our way back to Ohio,” said Marshall.