People of faith take to streets

Walkers pray and hand out books
By Lynn R. Parks

Ed Butler has attended church all his life. But on New Year's Day, he said, he participated in a church activity the likes of which he has never seen.
"I have never been a part of anything so exciting," said Butler, a member of the Church of God, Milford, and a Seaford councilman. "It was rich, just super."
Butler and about 175 others were part of Taking It To the Streets, a Millennium Day of Prayer sponsored by the Seaford Ministerium. Participants walked from house to house in Seaford and Blades, leaving "The Book of Hope," a collection of Bible verses, at each door. They also paused on each street long enough to pray for its residents.
"These people felt called by God to lift up the people of Seaford in prayer and to share God's word with residents of each household," said the Rev. Alan Jones, Wesley United Methodist Church, who with his wife Kari, a minister at St. John's United Methodist Church, organized the walk. "And how better to spend the first day of a new millennium?"
Butler said that the walkers were from up to 20 area churches and represented "all denominations and all colors."
"There was not a Methodist banner flying," said the Rev. Isaac Ross, minister at the Seaford Revival Mission Center. "There was not a Baptist banner, a Pentecostal banner, a Nazarene banner or a Presbyterian banner. Nobody was saying, 'I'm right and you are wrong.' There were as many blacks as whites. It was an incredible effort."
"Our common denominator was not our particular churches," added Jones. "Our common denominator was Jesus Christ."
Jones said that the idea of praying for the town came to him while he was attending a meeting of Promise Keepers, a Christian group for men, this summer in Philadelphia. When he brought the concept back to the ministerium, Ross proposed that the walkers also hand out the books.

The ministerium purchased 4,000 books, published by Tyndale House Publishers, for $800. Participants, who met at noon at St. John's UMC, were divided into groups of four - two women, two men, two white, two black, and all from a different church - and were assigned to certain areas of the city. At the end of the day, all 4,000 books were gone.
"We did not know how many people we would get," said Jones. "At first, we were not going to cover the apartments. But there were enough people that we were able to cover all the apartments in town. And when the people returned from their routes, they were so excited that we redeployed them to Blades."
"This is what really shook me," said Butler. "I know Seaford and I know all its back roads. When I drove around that afternoon, every house had a book hanging on the doorknob. The churches that day reached people they have never reached before."
And in return, said Jones, the people who passed out the books were "filled with the Holy Spirit." When they returned to St. John's UMC, the center of the operation, they were "bubbling," he said. "They were excited. When you give, you always get more back."
Jones predicts that the walk is the beginning of a spiritual awakening in Seaford. "In the past year, we have had many challenges," he said. "I think that it is time in Seaford for a revival and I think that this walk is the beginning of that. I heard several people talking about joining together. We haven't done that in the past. This is the start of something big."
"It is time to turn our faces back to God," added Ross. "I think Seaford will never be the same."