Local Christians walk to demonstrate unity

Local Christians walk to demonstrate unity

Motorists driving in Morgan Hill Saturday may be surprised to
see a number of residents determinedly walking through the downtown
area. Despite the approaching general election, this march is
definitely not political. It is planned as a visible demonstration
of Christian unity.
Motorists driving in Morgan Hill Saturday may be surprised to see a number of residents determinedly walking through the downtown area.

Despite the approaching general election, this march is definitely not political. It is planned as a visible demonstration of Christian unity.

Members of several Morgan Hill churches will gather at Advent Lutheran Church (16780 Murphy Ave.) at 9 a.m. on Saturday. After a greeting and prayers by Advent’s pastor, the Rev. Anita Warner, they will depart west on East Dunne Avenue at 9:15.

The schedule calls for walkers to arrive at the Morgan Hill United Methodist Church (17175 Monterey St.) at 10 a.m. There they may visit the historic sanctuary, enjoy some refreshing water and join in prayers offered by that church’s pastor, the Rev. Patrick Davis.

The morning’s final stop will be at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church (17740 Peak Ave.). After sharing in prayers led by the Rev. Philip Cooke, St. John’s rector (pastor), there will be time for refreshment, fellowship, prayer and an opportunity to participate in walking the labyrinth, a modern version of an ancient symbolic path for prayer and meditation. Instruction will be available on how to reap the benefits of this tradition.

Advent’s Pastor Warner invites South Valley Christians to join in this march of unity.

“What would you be willing to march for?,” she said. “Often we think of people marching together in protest of some sort. Saturday you are invited to march (walk, really) not in protest, but in celebration of Christian unity.”

St. John’s Father Phil said the reason behind the event is to have something positive to celebrate.

“In our time, the news that makes the headlines is bad news, with disagreement and difference about almost everything,” he said. “Sometimes the only church news that gets reported is the arguments and failures. The greater truth is that Christians of all sorts adhere to the words of Jesus, ‘Love God with all our hearts and love our neighbor as our self.’ All Christians in some way strive to practice this. But this does not seem to be newsworthy.”

The Walk of Christian Unity is an event for all ages: children, youths, adults and seniors. Participants are welcome to walk the whole route (2.8 miles total distance) or any leg of it. Non-walkers are invited to join in fellowship and prayer along the way and help to help provide transportation from the last stop.

The prayer of Jesus of Nazareth was that all his followers “may be one,” but the letters of St. Paul show how differences developed among Christians quite early in history. This unfortunate tendency continued through the centuries, often leading to violence and bloodshed.

– Heretics, those accused of false belief, were regularly persecuted.

– In 1054, the Great Schism caused Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic Christians to cut off relations between those groups.

– The Fourth Crusade led to the Catholic Crusaders destroying much of the city of Constantinople in 1204, killing the Orthodox residents and even stealing holy relics of saints.

– In late 16th-century France, thousands of Protestant Huguenots were murdered by Catholics, leading to nearly four decades of religious warfare.

– In the 17th century, the 30 Years War engulfed most of Europe in fighting based on Christian differences, the most devastating war in Europe before World War I.

– It’s not just ancient history: Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants are now observing an uneasy truce after decades of sectarian violence.

The Oct. 30 date for the Church Unity Walk is somewhat ironic, coming the day before Reformation Day, the date commemorating Martin Luther’s posting in 1517 of his 95 Theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, starting the Protestant Reformation and plunging much of Europe into war.

Recent history has seen a reduction of violent disagreements among churches. The Ecumenical Movement, aimed toward uniting all believers in Christ, has led to greater tolerance for differing doctrines and more cooperation among churches.

A good example of this trend is Advent Lutheran Church, whose parent body, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has entered into full communion agreements with the Presbyterian Church, USA, Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Moravian Church and United Methodist Church. Members of these churches are able to join sacramentally in the life of each other, and clergy may also minister interchangeably among congregations.

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