LIMA — During Lent this year, Trinity United Methodist Church will be doing Walk to the Cross, a holistic program that will not only touch on the spiritual but also the physical.
Adapted by the Rev. John Foster, associate pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, the program asks church members to pledge to walk a certain number of miles during Lent, with the goal of reaching 6,100 miles, the distance from Lima to Jerusalem.
“John came on board in July,” said Tami Gough, coordinator for West Central Ohio Health Ministries Program and a Trinity United Methodist Church member. “He’s so enthusiastic, and he wanted to do something for health. I had heard of the walk concept. So I showed it to him back in the fall, and he took it and adapted it for Trinity.”
The concept was first used during Advent season and was called Walk to Bethlehem. It was such a success, Foster decided to do it again for Lent, this time calling it Walk to the Cross. The program will start on Feb. 13, Ash Wednesday, and end on March 29, Good Friday.
“We had 113 participants and logged 15,000 collective miles during Advent,” Foster said.
Despite his earlier success, Foster has a few changes he’s made for Walk to the Cross.
First, he invited other churches to participate in the program. Currently, there are nine other churches besides Trinity United Methodist Church involved: The Future Church, Family of Faith United Methodist Church, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, St. Mark United Methodist Church, Westside United Methodist Church, South Side Christian Church, Shawnee United Methodist Church and Bath United Methodist Church.
“Those churches are on board now,” said Foster. “We have some churches that are undecided, and of course, other area churches are welcome to join us.”
Another difference is the addition of a devotional.
“During Advent we didn’t emphasize the spiritual as much, and I wanted to do that,” Foster said. “So, I drew up this Lenten devotional. It’s very simple, and there are healthy recipes in the back, too.”
While each church may do things a bit differently, they will all check in weekly and report their congregant’s miles. Foster is hoping to log 250,000 collective miles.
Several churches will also be keeping track of the miles in unique ways.
“We’ll have a great big map that plots the miles from Lima to Jerusalem,” said Linda Hoehn, office manager at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. “We’ll log how many miles each week, but we are hoping to go over the 6,100 miles.”
While it is called Walk to the Cross, participants can include a wide variety of activities to count toward their goals including running, biking, skiing and swimming.
“Pastor Foster figured out that an hour of activity equals about four miles,” explained Hoehn. “So, if you want to combine different activities, you can keep track and log those miles. Even members of the Y can clock those miles and turn them in. What’s really great about this program is that anyone from the very young to senior citizens can do it.”
While the program is a great way to get people active, many of the church leaders are excited about it for a different reason.
“For us, the sweet thing is churches cooperating together,” said the Rev. Charlotte Hefner, pastor at Bath United Methodist Church, which also includes Shawnee United Methodist Church.
Added the Rev. Maryann Tomlinson, head pastor at St. Mark United Methodist Church, “We’re really excited to partner with Trinity. There’s a feeling of community not only within the walls of our sanctuary, but in the community of Lima and the world because Christ calls all of us in our journey to the cross and the celebration of our risen Lord.”
In addition to joining with other churches, Foster is excited about helping the community get healthier.
“This is also about building relationships. Many of the people in our surrounding area are limited in their choices,” he said. “They don’t have the availability to go to Rays to buy healthy food, so they buy junk food. They are limited in their life culture. That’s the group of people we are called by Jesus not only to love, but to serve. They are part of the community. They are us.”
Walk to the Cross will culminate with a 5K event, the details of which have not been finalized.
“We’ll be meeting on Feb. 15,” Foster said. “We’ll address the route, and we want to have a health fair. If anyone wants to participate in the health fair, all they need to do is call us.”
Hefner added Walk to the Cross is a different way of looking at Lent.
“Instead of laying down something for Lent,” she said. “We’ll be picking up new healthy habits.”
What: Walk to the Cross
When: Feb. 13 to March 29
For details, call 419-996-9725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.