- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

A 2,500-mile journey across the country ended yesterday at a D.C. church with the message that Christianity must bear no grudges based on race, religion or sexual orientation.

The CrossWalk America began on Easter in Phoenix. About 150 members concluded the walk with a half-mile hike down 16th Street Northwest, from Meridian Hill Park to Foundry United Methodist Church.

“Welcome to the celebration of a journey just begun,” said the Rev. Brad Wishon, born, raised and educated in Missouri. “We must dare to speak of love, not of derision.”

Rebecca Glenn, co-president of the group, was one of about a dozen people to complete the walk of “more than 5 million steps” through 11 states.

Most of the other 11,200 participants walked a few days, typically 26 miles a day, setting off from their hometown churches. About 200 families and 150 churches provided overnight lodging and meals along the way.

“We walked through heat, rain and some snow actually,” said Mrs. Glenn, whose daughter, Katrina, 19, also made the trek. “We walked to lift up a joy of compassion and inclusion. We are happy to be here at the doorway of America.”

The Rev. Eric Elnes, the group’s other president, said, “We feel like America is standing at a crosswalk” of intolerance and justice. “God transcends transgressions.”

The idea for a cross-country walk came to Mr. Elnes two years ago after a Christian meeting at Phoenix. He said he wanted it to be a means of spreading the message that love, not hate and intolerance, benefits and saves all people.

“It fell into my head,” said Mr. Elnes, pastor of the 300-member Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ in Arizona. “I just couldn’t get rid of it.”

The idea appealed to Mrs. Glenn, who resigned from her job as vice president of information technologies for an insurance company in 2004 to help organize the walk. Mrs. Glenn said she and her daughter are supported by her husband, Tom Glenn, who works in the aerospace industry, and son, Weston, 16.

Meighan Pritchard, former handbell choir director for University Congregational United Church of Christ, in Seattle, felt a similar calling to participate.

“I felt a strong urge to get out of the pew and spread the faith,” she said.

Mark Creekwater, 58, went the entire distance. “I love to walk,” said Mr. Creekwater, who is homeless but has lived most of his life in Newark, N.J., and Oakland, Calif., doing odd jobs. “I was wondering if this was possible. Religion means reconnecting. This is the good of all religions.”

The hike from Meridian Hill Park was interrupted near the entrance of the Universalist National Memorial Church, in the 1800 block of 16th Street Northwest.

A woman there called out to the walkers to stop by for some cool water. A few minutes later, they continued to Foundry church.

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