Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marching in the Name of Jesus - Downtown

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marching in the Name of Jesus - Downtown

Article excerpt

Harry Schroeder was throwing a big party in downtown St. Louis Saturday morning - for Jesus Christ.

Thousands of Christians were invited to be foot soldiers in the annual March for Jesus, an ecumenical and evangelical celebration, including song and prayer.

Or, as Schroeder calls it, "a public display of affection" for the man Christians of all stripes call Lord.

Saturday's march, the fourth annual one here, is one small step in a worldwide march, taking place in 475 U.S. cities and about 170 countries.

March organizers, the A.D. 2000 network of international ministries, say its only purpose is praise. Marchers are to leave any political and social agendas at home, carry no protest signs, shout no political slogans, distribute no fliers or pamphlets, except march materials.

And marchers are asked to put aside doctrinal differences and celebrate a common love.

"There are a whole lot of differences we have in denominational backgrounds, and that's OK, because God didn't ask us all to be the same, just to love Him," said Schroeder, 37, pastor of Victory Fellowship, an independent charismatic congregation in Crestwood.

March organizers encourage cheers and boisterous expressions of joy. They urge participants to welcome everyone and to sing.

The program included a musical setting of the Apostles' Creed, an affirmation of Christian beliefs.

Some pastors say the march exemplifies a trend in evangelization - away from one-on-one to service and public worship. Schroeder sees it as creating "an atmosphere for evangelizing, over and against knocking on people's doors."

"We hope people will be open in life to faith because of this event," he said.

Marchers here were to include members of more than 400 independent, Protestant and Catholic churches in Missouri and Illinois. As in the past, mostly conservative and evangelical congregations signed on.

At Kiener Plaza, community religious leaders planned to pray for an end to violence and racial stereotypes and a return of family values.

Many were marching because, they said, Jesus has helped them in some personal way. The annual marches give Diane Patton, a member of St. …

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