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Hudson Valley Press

August 1st, 2012

Walk for Jesus in Beacon

Newburgh’s Kazi Oliver, an African drummer and instructor, leads the charge through the city of Beacon, NY, on Saturday morning, July 28, 2012 as part of the First Annual Walk for Jesus.
BEACON - “This is a Jesus Crusade.” That description was used by Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church Pastor Frederick Mills to describe the First Annual Walk for Jesus event that took place Saturday in the City of Beacon.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m., a host of the 139 Main Street church members, along with other people in the community, could be spotted congregating at the bottom of Main Street. Filling up on breakfast, grabbing bottles of water, playing musical instruments and holding decorative signs, the united contingent set out at 11 a.m. for their energetic walk to Memorial Park, located on Robert Cahill Drive. Here, the festivities continued, as facepainting, blood pressure screenings, an assortment of Hudson Valley vendors, and refreshments were available. Praise and worship further complemented the day’s offerings and purpose.

“Today is all about getting the community involved,” said Deborah Griffin, Deaconess of Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church. “It’s about showing love through Jesus Christ.”

A collaborative idea and effort, “Walk for Jesus” was the brainchild of the Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pastor Mills, and El Shaddai Ministry, led by Sister Shirley Hopkins and Griffin. The seed was first planted about three months ago. Already the site of several other community outreach programs, such as a monthly food pantry, Operative Backpack, Winter Covering and homeless breakfast feedings, the Church has always recognized the ongoing need to help.

“There are so many needy people in our community that don’t know the church is available, so we go out and find them,” said Griffin.

That mission was accomplished through word, praise, unity and love on Saturday, as about 75 people could be spotted walking through Beacon’s streets. Equipped with inspirational signs, floats and car escorts, the group was met with cheers. Several in the group expressed passionate words behind their walking.

“We have life because Jesus died for us,” said Keisha Gilchrest, who was joined by her daughter, Tziporah, on the walk. “We should celebrate every day because He woke us up today, and he doesn’t have to do it.”

While many of the participants were from Beacon, some came a long way to take part in something close to their hearts.

“This is very important to me; I love to praise God and share the love of Jesus with others,” said Sharae Stackhouse, a Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church member, who now resides in Rutherford, New Jersey. “I want to allow people to see God is not just an abstract thing.” She added, “It is our responsibility as Christians to share his love.”

Also taking part in the walk, as well as the day’s festivities, was Pastor Mills. Clad in jeans and a black Church logo tee-shirt (also donned by many walkers), Mills was not readily recognized by many in his congregation. However, once they detected who he was, their eyes lit up with joy to see the inspirational leader.

“Our purpose here today is to bring attention and recognition to the residents of Beacon that Jesus Christ is the only savior that can save their souls,” said six year Bethlehem Pastor Mills. “We march and stand on promises of truth of God; we want to be a beacon of light for Christ.”
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