By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO May 21, 2002 They did march.
Just not outside.
Where it was cold.
Its the Sleighride for Jesus, quipped Pastor Mark Peters of Woodbourne as he threaded his way through the crowd of about 100 in Monticellos Neighborhood Facility Saturday morning.
Indeed, the wet conditions put a damper only on attendance, not attitude, at the first March for Jesus held in the county seat since 2000.
Hands were lifted, voices were raised and feet stomped to the rhythm of contemporary Christian choruses and traditional hymns, thanks to the musical talents of the Daytop Choir and the praise team from Lighthouse Assembly of God in Woodbourne.
Im just grateful this many people are here, said organizer Scott Clark of Liberty. We wanted to have it this year, especially after what happened on September 11.
Clark and fellow members of JOY Ministries, a local Christian group of clergy and laypeople, put together this years march, but it was just one of hundreds happening across the U.S. and the world on Saturday. International march organizers estimated that as many as 10 million people marched over the weekend.
They marched for one cause: the lifestyle of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe is the Son of God and the Savior of humanity. According to the New Testament of the Bible (copies of which were being handed out for free Saturday), Jesus lived a life of compassion and giving to others, even in the midst of impoverished and hostile conditions.
The theme is very appropriate: Peace Be to These Streets, explained Clark. We just want people to know there are options.
But the street in this case, Broadway between the county government center and the county courthouse wasnt where the march took place this year. Through the help of the Monticello Police Department, Clark was able to secure the Neighborhood Facility at the last minute barely before the snowflakes started flying all over the county.
And so attendees marched around the lower room of the building instead.
Im just here today because I so much believe in giving honor to Jesus, being obedient and coming together as a body of believers, remarked former March organizer and Kauneonga Lake resident Marge Foster. The unity is precious to me.
Several area churches were represented in the crowd, but participants refrained from identifying their preferred house of worship per the suggestions inside the marchs song booklet. The focus was instead on unilaterally glorifying God and Jesus.
Pastors Rich and Cathy Ienuso of Woodbourne led the assemblage in worship, prayer and passionate flag-waving, while volunteers handed out water and refreshments during the approximately two-hour event.
Its a happy day, said Monticello resident Lillian Suarez amidst the joyous din. Ill do anything for Jesus! I want to give Him thanks and give Him glory!
And as Suarez encouraged the line of people marching in a circle around the room, another participant in the line itself made it known that the cloudy, snowy weather outside had no effect on her demeanor.
The Son is shining on the inside, she remarked with a smile.