|Members of Crossroads Church beginning their 60-mile relay to Austin.|
It was three days before the 2012 national elections. For most part, the United States was focused on the presidential race between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. At the time, predictions concerning the outcome of the election were swinging wildly - with many saying the nation was at a crossroads.
But for Crossroads Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Belton, Texas, the belief that people's opinions - their votes - matter, was worth putting their feet to. So, that's what they did - the church put on its collective walking shoes and, in a massive relay event, headed for the state capitol building in Austin in an effort to encourage people to vote.
According to Senior Pastor Matt Thrasher, his church averages about 300 on Sundays - 240 of them (80 percent) volunteered to take part in the eight-and-a-half-hour, 60-mile relay event.
With people signing up to do individual distances of one to two miles, the event drew local media attention, with Thrasher being interviewed several times about the effort. On Saturday, November 3, the 60-mile walk began with the solemn raising of the flag, pledge of allegiance, a prayer and some opening remarks by Texas State Representative Ralph Sheffield.
Once the relay began, teams of people made their way along the outer road of I-35. One relay member carried a cross, another the American flag and a third, a Prisoner of War flag. Other relay members walked alongside, jogged or road their bicycles along the route - with several individuals completing the entire 60 miles (having started the journey earlier in the day).
"We believe in the values that made this country great," Thrasher says. "And as God's people, we believe we have a voice to speak out for godly values and that the national election was worth our attention - people need to get out and vote."
|Eighty percent of the church, 240 people, participated in the relay event.|
Thrasher says that due to the publicity prior to the event, numerous people honked and waved support as the relay made its way to Austin. "We also had people stop and ask what we were doing, and it was a great opportunity to share our mission and purpose," Thrasher says.
At 4:30 that afternoon, the 60-mile relay was completed on the lawn of the state capitol. Thrasher and his father, former Crossroad Church lead pastor, Harry Thrasher, offered closing remarks on the day-long event.
"We had people from all walks of life participate," Thrasher says. "Of notable effort, we had several families push their handicapped children for miles in their wheelchairs and a young woman with cerebral palsy, whose every step is an effort, also participated, walking a mile, uphill, for the relay."
Thrasher says that the event was intended as an encouragement to people to exercise their right to vote, but in the end, the true benefit may have been the bringing of the church family closer together.
For more information about Crossroads Church, see its website.
|Some of the many members of Crossroads Church who took part in the relay pose on the steps of the capitol building in Austin.|