One step at a time, Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church members are walking the distance that the Apostle Paul walked on his second biblical journey.
More than 20 members of the church have put pedometers on their waistbands to log each step they take. Their goal is to log an average of 10,000 steps per day, the equivalent of about five miles. At that pace, it will take more than 200 days for the members to walk 1,265 miles - the distance Paul walked on his second journey through modern day Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Greece while spreading the word of God.
It's a spiritual journey, said Pastor Michael Ritter. Members log their steps throughout the day, while at work or at play, but are asked to reflect on Paul's journey and pray when they are able. The program is also a journey towards better health, he added.
"We're looking at the spiritual side and the health side," said Program Director Amanda Carnes. "It's the whole person."
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Some of the church members are teaming up with spouses and friends to log extra steps after work and during their free time, but for the most part, the journey is a solitary one. Each member logs his or her own miles and turns their number in to Carnes. A bulletin board in the church lobby shows how members are progressing on the "journey."
Those who complete the challenge are recognized in the church newsletter and on the bulletin board. There is no tangible reward, Ritter said, but there is a satisfaction that comes with completing the journey.
Ritter was the first person to log the 1,265 miles, but said several church members are following closely behind him. Though some of the walkers have dropped out of the challenge for illness and other reasons, most of those involved have looked forward to logging their steps.
There has been a friendly spirit of competition among some of the walkers, he added.
"Those of us who have continued have really enjoyed it," Ritter said.