Churches and community groups in Waterloo, Iowa, have come together to respond to a recent rise in gun violence in the city.  In an effort to come together and build community a series of marches and rallies are being held the next several weeks.

The first one was held on March 17, when more than 200 people marched from Mt. Carmel Baptist Church to Sullivan Park where several local religious leaders spoke.  The crowd was made up of different races and faith communities and ages, with many children and youth in attendance.  “We have to start somewhere, by coming together and caring for one another, especially our youth”, commented one attendee.

Children gather for a prayer for the youth of the community

Many who attended found out about the march through a Facebook Group Taking Back Waterloo which was created as way to build up community.

The May 17 march came together quickly in response to a tragic shooting where a 14 year old accidentally shot and killed his older sister.  One of the pastors who spoke at the rally remembered baptizing both of them.

May 24 Jericho Walk
The May 24th march was the first in a series of 7 planned Jericho Walks across the city.  A Jericho Walk is based on Joshua 6, where Joshua was commanded to lead the people in a silent march around the city of Jericho for six days before bringing down the wall on the seventh day.  Congregations in other cities marred by violence have done this as a way to pray for God to restore peace and justice.

Pastor Marvin Jenkins of Union Missionary Baptist Church,
organized the Jericho walks around the details of the events in Joshua 6.  The idea originated with Pastor Sedrick McIntosh,
chaplain at Allen Hospital.  “Not by Might, but by Faith”, was the title of Pastor Jenkins’ sermon on Sunday.  “It’s only by God’s hand that we can make a
difference in this city”, he notes.
In Joshua’s march the priests went forward with ram’s horns.  On Sunday youth members of the Union Missionary Baptist Drill team and drummers led the march while others followed silently.  It was very powerful.
A Jericho Walk is not something Lutherans are familiar with, but it is a powerful ritual and Lutherans get ritual.  Next week’s walk will begin at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Broadway which is an area that has experienced gun violence.  The plan is to cover the whole city with the marches.
I would encourage everyone to participate in one or more of these marches, even if you don’t live in the area and think this has nothing to do with you.

  “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” I Corinthians 12:26

Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission


Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Where and what time are the Jerico marches. I have asked several people & looked on web but have not found the answer.


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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.




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