“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
With that quote, On Earth Peace has announced a new campaign dedicated to the memory of Paul Ziegler, a Church of the Brethren college student who died in a bicycle-automobile accident in McPherson, Kan., last September. The campaign, “3,000 Miles for Peace,” will help On Earth Peace raise funds for violence prevention efforts.
“I really believe what Martin Luther King, Jr., said about taking the first step,” writes Bob Gross, director of development for On Earth Peace, in an announcement. “Right now, with wars in Afghanistan and Mali and Syria, with shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, with economic violence destroying people’s lives, it is easy for me to be discouraged. That is when I need to hear Dr. King’s counsel just to take the first step. And I know I’m not alone. There are so many of us who are choosing to step toward a more peaceful world–a more peaceful life for ourselves and for all God’s children.”
Ziegler, who was a sophomore at McPherson College, was planning a 3,000-mile bicycle ride across the country in 2015, for peace, reports Elizabeth Schallert, project coordinator for 3,000 Miles for Peace. The campaign is to begin March 1 and end May 5 with a closing event in Elizabethtown, Pa., in honor of Paul Ziegler. “It’s a way for all of us to take another step toward peace and justice. It’s people standing up and saying that violence will not have the last word.”
On Earth Peace encourages people to join the campaign by organizing bicycle rides and walks this spring to raise up a message of peace and to help prevent violence. Schallert emphasizes that the campaign is for everyone. “It can be anyone!” she notes. “Church groups, individuals, families, peace groups. Who can you think of to join you?”
Individuals and groups can organize their own walk, roll, or ride, participate in one in their area, be a sponsor for someone else, or simply raise funds online without coordinating an event. Already, more than a dozen events are planned in at least nine states.
Gross himself is planning a long-distance walk from March 21-May 3, walking from North Manchester, Ind., to Elizabethtown, Pa. The walk of approximately 650 miles will take six weeks. “Along the way I will meet and talk with people in churches, colleges, and anywhere I can,” he says. “I’ll be writing a blog as I journey, so you might be interested to follow my walk online.”