By Kevin Olenick, citizen reporter
(About four thousand people participated in the 2011 March for Jesus.Street church insert)
Roughly 500 people showed up for the 2011 March for Jesus Sunday afternoon. The event started at Millenium Plaza around 1 p.m., wound down Stephen Ave. and ended at Olympic Plaza.
Marchers were decked out in red shirts and caps, some in signs of the sins they say Jesus saved them from. Former alderman Ric McIver opened the ceremony, while the crowd shouted and cheered for Jesus, and a truck blared gospel music.
The March for Jesus proceeded down Stephen Ave. to Olympic Plaza
Numbers were generally considered lower then last year, likely due to threatening weather and Fathers Day.
Organizer Daniel Howard pointed out to the crowd started that it was not a “Race for Jesus,” but a “March For Jesus” and encouraged people to take time and walk in an organized manner. Marchers were generally boisterous, but respectful.
The event was organized by Street Church and supported by a number of local churches and businesses. Organizers made it quite clear the intention of this presentation was. The focus of the event was a declaration from this group that they believed that Jesus was Lord.
Many in the March were carrying gospel tracts explaining how to be “saved,” handing them out to the spectators and passers by. I happened to get four.
A common message in the tracts addressed the question, what happens when you die? My pamphlets didn’t have contact information on them. What if had wanted to ask questions about salvation and death? A bit of an oversight, I thought.
Although I would consider myself a follower of Jesus, I did not wear the red shirt or cap. My job was to observe and report, and I was most interested in the reactions of onlookers.
A young man was holding a sign near Bankers Hall that said, “Grownups don’t need imaginary friends.” Marchers didn’t seem particularly affected or offended by the sign. One even took a picture with him. But it was very clear this person was affected by this event as he continued to follow the March to it’s conclusion at Olympic Plaza, where participants continued with worship, prayer and provided food for marchers and others that were around.
Throughout the March Howard stressed that an important objective of the March was to let the city know that Christians were praying for the guidance and direction of this city going forward. Marchers didn’t care about the weather (it rained) and neither the prayer nor the food stopped flowing. Not even rejected tracts daunted the spirits of the marchers.
Not all Christians would be comfortable presenting their faith this way. Some would rather express their faith in a more personal and quiet matter and would prefer to let their “light” shine.
I may not agree with the marchers’ methods or their message, but you can be certain that this group will continue to be a presence within their community. They strongly feel their message, and the message for all Christians, is to proclaim that Jesus is Lord.