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Church hosts CROP walkers

October 07, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

ROHRERSVILLE - As one of four staging areas for last Sunday's South County CROP Walk, Bethel United Methodist Church decided to go all out this year to support the supporters of the humanitarian mission.

The church held a luncheon at the church before the walk got under way, said Bethel Pastor Fayellen Shankle.

The tasty send-off was the brainchild of several members of the congregation who have participated in the walk in the past or were planning to walk in Sunday's event. It was just one example of the dedication felt by many for the cause of the CROP Walk program.

Approximately 40 walkers took advantage of the opportunity to load up on carbohydrates before hitting the road, organizers said.

CROP Walks are an interfaith ministry of Church World Service and are sponsored each year locally by the Washington County Council of Churches and by faith community affiliates throughout the county.


Organizers say the 2003 CROP Walk in southern Washington County was a big success. "We had about 100 walkers, which is up from last year," said Roger Burtner, chairman of this year's walk.

While the figures on how much was raised still are being tabulated, Burtner said he is confident they also will be up.

Last year more than $35,000 was raised through sponsor pledges to walkers and skaters in the six events held in Washington County. One-fourth of that amount always remains in the county, supporting local food pantries and providing food for needy people.

In the weeks prior to Sunday's walks, organizational meetings were held around Washington County to make sure this year's walks also would be successful.

The southern county effort involved several churches in and around the Boonsboro area.

"CROP originally stood for Christian Rural Overseas Program," Burtner said. "Now it's more community than just Christian, and it is certainly no longer just rural."

Burtner said a better translation for CROP now would be Community Response to Overwhelming Poverty - wherever it might be found.

A veteran of the first CROP Walk in York, Pa., in 1971, Burtner said he started with an idea that came to the United States via Canada and England, where walkers raised money through pledges for charitable causes.

"By word of mouth, it went from two people to 1,600 people who raised $22,000 that first year," Burtner said, who was then mid-Atlantic director for Church World Service.

The first CROP Walks in Washington County were 30 years ago. As it was in the beginning, the money is raised by walkers who get pledges from people for certain amounts of money for each mile completed.

"We walk because they walk," said the Rev. Anne Weatherholt, pastor of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Lappans and a member of the CROP walk committee. She was referring to poor people all around the world who have to walk miles to get fresh water or food each day.

"This year, each young person at St. Mark's got a 'paycheck' from which they must pay all expenses before buying food and then seeing how little is often left over," Weatherholt said.

At Benevola United Methodist Church in September, the church had a dinner where everyone drew from a hat, receiving a ticket for either a full meal, rice and gravy, or just rice and water.

"Many would share what they had with those who had less," Burtner said. "That is after all, the point of the CROP walks."

Others on the South County committee were Joseph Donovan, Doug Griffin, Bob Brennan and Eleanor Doub.

Walkers in South County followed four routes, all converging on Taylor Park in Keedysville. Walkers left from Benevola United Methodist Church, Manor Church of the Brethren, the Sharpsburg Pharmacy and Bethel United Methodist Church in Rohrersville.

CROP/Church World Service aids needy people in more than 80 countries, including the United States.

The final CROP Walk will be Sunday in Smithsburg with registration beginning at 1 p.m. at the Smithsburg Community Park. The Rev. Dean Mouk is the coordinator and can be reached at 301-824-3941.

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