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Jesus Walk tests the faithful

3/27/2013

Des Moines’ first annual Jesus Walk takes place at Greenwood Pond at sunrise on March 31.

Des Moines’ first annual Jesus Walk takes place at Greenwood Pond at sunrise on March 31.

This weekend, countless Iowans will celebrate the return of their Lord and Savior during Easter. For children it is a day of sweets left by a precocious bunny after a long-awaited end to their time of penance. Adults celebrate with family and friends at church services and lunches with all the fixin’s.

With the return of Jesus still fresh in everyone’s mind, St. Hypocretias Episcothic Church in Des Moines came up with the idea of turning one of His greatest miracles into a competition that teaches folks as much about Jesus as it does about keeping the faith.

“Everyone knows about Jesus walking on water,” said Joyce Loveletter, activities coordinator at St. Hypocretias. “But few know His reasons for doing it. That’s what we want to help folks understand.”

That’s why St. Hypocretias Episcothic Church is hosting the first “Jesus Walk” this Sunday on March 31 at Greenwood pond (behind the old Science Center building). Don’t let the name fool you, though. This challenge is anything but simple. Participants will be competing with one another for the chance to win a trip to meet the new Pope, St. Francis, in Vatican City.

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“With church membership on the rise, St. Hypocretias is thrilled to have the opportunity to offer this reward,” Loveletter beamed. “This is just such a neat event, and it brings so many people together, we felt we had to offer something good.”

Other area church leaders have criticized the St. Hypocretias’ fundraising idea, calling it blasphemy. They also suggest the money raised could be used more responsibly, such as funding local charities.

“We don’t tell you how to live, so don’t be tellin’ us how to spend our money,” Loveletter said in response.

The “Jesus Walk” is named after one of Jesus’ greatest miracles, walking on water. It was a particularly choppy night on the water for Jesus’ disciples, as the Bible story goes, and they were frightened of drowning. Suddenly, Jesus was seen walking toward them on the water, assuring them they would be OK. Like Jesus, participants will attempt to stride across Greenwood pond and prove their serenity with God.

The goal of the competition is to walk further than the rest of the participants. He or she who manages to make it across the pond will be deemed faithfully, but only the truly divine will also turn around and walk back without falling in. There will be three rescue divers from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on hand — just in case.

“Obviously, only Jesus could walk on water,” Loveletter said. “That’s why this little event takes place just before spring has bloomed, and there is still some ice.”

Thin ice, to be certain. Loveletter admits, the Jesus Walk is a dangerous competition, so entrants do it at their own risk.

“When I first heard about this competition, I thought it was utter blasphemy,” said local pastor Jameson Templeton. “But then I pictured the people involved sinking like stones, and I couldn’t help but smile and see that Jesus’ miracle wasn’t being made light of, rather it was demonstrating just how awe-inspiring it really was.”

This event is sponsored by Carlo Rossi and will be held at sunrise on Sunday, allowing the pond time to ice up a bit from the overnight. There will also be a fish-and-lamb breakfast provided from area fast-food restaurants. Goodies, grub and God — the big three that will make any Sunday into a Funday. Will your faith carry you? APRIL FOOLS

Cost is $10 per person. Due to the size of the pond, the competition is limited to the first 80 walk-ups. The competition begins promptly at 6:20 a.m. Breakfast will be served following the competition. Participants will need to sign a liability release.

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