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Christian group walks the walk

August 24, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - In her encounters with people across the country, Rebecca Glenn said she has met quite a few Christians uncomfortable with the attitudes of the people at the podiums.

Many of them will not stay, said Glenn, who has learned "that a lot of people walked away from the church because they haven't gotten the message of love."

Glenn said Wednesday that she wants to introduce people to a religious approach that embraces many viewpoints and emphasizes love, and she and a small group of Christians - most from the Phoenix area - are using their feet to carry the message. The group shared dinner Wednesday with members of New Light Metropolitan Community Church.

"We're here to change the public face of Christianity into a more inclusive, compassionate one," said the Rev. Eric Elnes, who serves with Glenn as co-president of CrossWalk America.

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According to Elnes, the group started from Arizona on Easter Sunday and plans to finish the walk Sept. 3 in Washington, D.C.

Several of the members wore black T-shirts with the words, "Love thy neighbor" on the front and commandments to love the homeless, Muslims and others on the back.

A member of New Light, TerriLee Bell of Hagerstown, said she was impressed with CrossWalk America's mission. According to the group's Web site, CrossWalk America represents 12 basic tenets called the Phoenix Affirmations. The principles include separation of church and state, respect for the environment and a call to treat people of every background, sexual orientation and religion authentically.

"I think it's really fascinating what they're doing. I would hope they have very comfortable shoes. I would think they've gone through several pairs by now," Bell said.

While New Light ministers to the gay community, some religious leaders at other churches "ostracize" and "vilify" people, Bell said.

"It's sad that so many traditional Christian churches miss the boat when the Bible starts talking about loving each other," she said.

While CrossWalk America members have encountered some opposition to their message, Glenn said most people she has met along the way find the message of inclusion and love refreshing.

"We hear people say, 'This is the kind of faith I can hand down to my children,'" she said.




CrossWalk seeks donations, members



CrossWalk America's 10-member group, which walked into Hagerstown on Tuesday, is staying at the REACH cold weather shelter until Saturday morning, REACH coordinator of services Kevin Collins said.

The group is seeking donations and fellow walkers to join the journey, members said.

For more information, visit CrossWalk America's Web site at www.CrossWalkAmerica.org.

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