From the Worldwide Faith News archives

United Methodist walks to Washington for peace rally

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 16 Jan 2003 11:46:48 -0600

Jan. 16, 2003	   News media contact: Joretta Purdue7(202)
546-87227Washington	10-71BP{023}

NOTE: Photographs will be available.

WASHINGTON (UMNS) - Walking to Washington from Iowa had not been part of the
original plan, Jonathan Meier explains, but coming to a peace rally scheduled
for Jan. 18 had been on his calendar.

The senior at Iowa State University in Ames already had a reservation on a
bus that community activists had chartered for the rally. He and others were
going to join people from all over the country for a march from the west lawn
of the Capitol to the Navy Yard, a distance of some 2.5 miles.

But then Meier heard his pastor, the Rev. Cindy McCalmont, preach Dec. 22 at
Collegiate United Methodist Church in Ames. McCalmont's sermon was on Mary
answering God's call. Although he didn't hear a voice, he experienced a
strong feeling that he needed to walk to Washington. He started out the next
morning without any elaborate planning.

People at the Ames church have found him places to stay - mostly with folks
at other United Methodist churches across the country. Meier and his parents
are members of Faith United Methodist Church in Spring Valley, Minn.

"Every day I go on, I'm more and more certain this was a calling, and God
wanted me to do this," Meier, 20, says in a phone conversation with United
Methodist News Service.

His plan was simple: try to walk 40 miles a day. Unaccustomed to that much
walking, his feet blistered.

Meier does not carry a sign or placard announcing his mission, but he shares
freely with people he meets in transit, including newspaper reporters and
photographers in several states.

Because of weather and mountains, he has accepted a few rides. In some places
where he had planned to walk, snowplows had covered the road's shoulders, he
says. But he estimates that he has walked about 800 miles of the more than
1,050 miles between Ames and Washington.

Braving winter's cold, snow and wind to walk across a significant part of the
continent in less than a month has been tough. "It's certainly strengthened
my faith," he says.

"I've developed a closer relationship with God," he says. He adds that he has
also "discovered the importance of inner peace."

The trip would not have been possible without the help of others, the college
senior says. He has focused on walking and meditation while church members
have called ahead to find shelter for him and advise him on routes to take. 

"I'm starting to feel the interdependence of creation," he says. Three weeks
into his trek, the religious studies major was thinking that a life of
contemplation might be his calling, although he says such decisions are still
in the future and he will continue to rely on God's guidance.

He also says he "wants to take time to consider my own acts and thoughts, and
make sure I'm not contributing to the hate and violence."

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United Methodist News Service
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