A mother and daughter team from Union are asking county residents to come together early on Saturday, Oct. 5, to pray.
They're not asking citizens to meet in a church or kneel at a pew.
Joanie Barber and her daughter, Stacey Rhodes, are asking people to take to the streets of La Grande at 9 a.m. for a prayer walk on routes ranging from 11/2 miles to 15 miles. There will be no registration fee.
Barber said the idea for the prayer walk came to her after she attended Son Light Fest, a Christian praise celebration Aug. 17 that included bands and arts and crafts at the Union County Fairgrounds.
"I couldn't sleep that night," Barber said. "I was praying and thinking it would be wonderful to have people around the city praying and asking God to bless us, our cities, state and our leaders."
Registration begins at 8 a.m. in the old Safeway store lot, across from Max Square. Fourth Street will be blocked from Adams to Jefferson avenues as a staging area for the participants.
Barber and Rhodes said people will be able to walk, run or ride their bicycles along the routes.
"We would ask people to not bring their pets," Barber said.
Maps will show the six routes, which begin and end at Max Square:
Â• The 11/2-mile route is downtown.
Â• A 3-mile route will go up Fourth Street by the La Grande Middle School, on to the high school, and east to the county buildings and Eastern Oregon University.
Â• A 4-mile route will run through north La Grande to Riverside Park and the fairgrounds before returning downtown
Â• A 6.5-mile route runs along Island Avenue to McAlister Road in Island City and back.
Â• The 10-mile half-city loop moves west to Grande Ronde Hospital, continues south to Gekeler Lane and on to 18th Street, Cove Avenue, McAlister Road in Island City and back to La Grande along Island Avenue.
Â• For the most ambitious, a 15-mile walk, run or ride will follow the 10-mile route to Island City and continue north to Fruitdale Lane. It will pass by Riverside Park on its way to downtown.
Barber and Rhodes said there are plenty of things in the community to pray about along the route, including schools, teachers and administrators, city officials, businesses, police and firefighters, neighborhoods, families and marriages.
Barber said people will be encouraged to walk in small groups and pray with their eyes open.
"Almost all the areas will have sidewalks," she said.
Water stations will be set up at the Church of the Nazarene, the Bread of Life Fellowship, the Tire Factory, Riverside Park and at the chiropractic office at Fourth Street and Adams Avenue. Portable restrooms also will be set up along the routes.
Barber said organizers will have cookies and punch awaiting the participants when they arrive back at the Safeway parking lot sometime between 9:30 a.m. and noon.
Several area churches, including the Bread of Life Fellowship where Barber and Rhodes attend, have been pitching in to help organize the prayer walk. Initially, 40 churches were contacted, Barber said.
Armen Woosley, organizer of Son Light Fest, has been involved in the planning meetings. More than 30 volunteers are expected to assist with the walk.
Participants will wear a tag that identifies them as part of the event.
People who do not want to walk, jog or bicycle along a route will have a place to sit and pray at the staging area, where chairs will be set up.
Rhodes said she has been happy to help her mother organize the event.
"We get along well together and it's good to encourage her. She's encouraged me in many ways, and it's good to stand behind her," said Rhodes, 20.
"It sounded like a really good idea," she added.
"It sounded like something that needed to be done. We all want to see something happen in this valley for God," said Rhodes, who was on Long Island 40 miles from New York City when the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfolded.
A national call to prayer
Rhodes, a 2000 graduate of Union High School, was a volunteer with Youth With a Mission in New York, helping with a performing arts and discipleship training school.
The terrorist attacks, she said, "opened our eyes to how much we must pray for our government and city officials, and especially President Bush during this difficult time."
Her mother hopes that many people will walk and pray.
"I know that God answers prayer," Barber said. "The more people we have praying for our communities, the more God is going to bless us."
Â— Dave Stave