Elizabethtown Church ‘walks to Nigeria’ in virtual challenge




A few of the participants in Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren's
Photos courtesy of Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren

A few of the participants in Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren's "Walk to Nigeria Team Challenge" including at center Rebecca and Samuel Dali.

Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is holding a “Walk to Nigeria Team Challenge” in which church members and friends of the congregation are invited to log walking miles in their own neighborhoods toward enough miles to walk to Nigeria. “That’s 5,710 miles!” said an announcement.

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The challenge was to log the miles in 60 days, starting June 1 and ending July 30. In fact, the 90-some people who have participated have logged more than 6,340 miles so far, already enough to make that imaginary walk to Nigeria--so the challenge has been doubled to walk “to Nigeria and back.” The new goal is 11,420 miles in 60 days. If the group reaches that goal, the congregation may announce a new place to walk to after that.

“People seem to be really interested in it,” said Amy Karr, chair of the Witness Commission that handles social justice, outreach, and service projects for the congregation. When the pandemic hit, she said, the commission began seeking ways to encourage the congregation to stay connected and work together toward a common goal, as well as to encourage people to get outside and find renewal through exercise and connection with the outdoors. The walk also sustains the connection that the congregation has built with Nigeria over the years.

The challenge is one in which all can take part, she noted. People of all ages and abilities are invited to participate in the event that takes the place of the 5K “Run for Peace” that the congregation ordinarily sponsors every year. But of course this is not an ordinary year. The walk challenge substitutes for the 5K, and is a fundraiser for the Center for Caring Empowerment and Peace Initiative (CCEPI), a nonprofit founded and led by Rebecca Dali that aids victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria as well as others in need including widows and orphans.

“We continue to appreciate Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren for initiating this walk to support us,” Dali posted on Facebook. She has been making regular posts listing the miles she and her husband, Samuel Dali, past president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), have walked, as well as miles logged by other relatives and friends both in the US and in Nigeria.

Karr sees the walk as a way “people we may never meet” can participate in something meaningful wherever they live around the world. Some 90 people have participated, according to the church’s website, but that number may be much larger because some who log in as individuals actually do the walking with their whole family or household.

The congregation is inviting people to join the challenge using either Facebook or Strava, a free website where participants can sign up and log miles. Donations to CCEPI are not required. For more information go to www.etowncob.org .

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