The pastor said it took a while for the congregation to warm to the idea.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR
BOARDMAN -- A minister hopes his 201-mile walk sends a message that's more about complacency than construction.
Starting at 6 a.m. Monday, Pastor Fred Mayhew will start walking back to Trinity Fellowship, 4749 South Ave. He'll leave from Ohio State University's football stadium, which was chosen simply because it's a landmark.
The 60-year-old pastor expects to walk about 10 miles a day. A 20-mile walk Sept. 30 will end at the church with a celebration at 6 p.m.
A service starting at 6 p.m. Sunday will launch what's been dubbed the "Dream Walk."
Here's the goal: Church members designed a T-shirt with the slogan, "Catch the Dream," since people can make pledges or donate during Mayhew's walk to help build the Dream Center.
The center would be a free-standing building on church property to house expansion of the church's large ministries. The church is so crowded that the pastors, including Mayhew, don't have offices.
But, says Mayhew, the walk's goal is not to make money. "It really isn't."
The walk is about having a dream, stepping out and being ready and willing to serve as a Christian.
It's about walking the spiritual walk.
"It needs to be a way of life," said Mayhew.
The pastor said that when he first told his congregation about the idea, he saw blank stares.
Now, people are getting excited, and many plan to join him on all or part of the last day's walk, he said. Those who can't walk are helping with parts of the celebration.
The idea for Mayhew's walk came when he attended a program for pastors in Phoenix, Ariz. One pastor had walked through the desert to raise funds for his Dream Center.
"Without a vision, people perish," said Mayhew. "Lack of a vision leaves people with no goals and no hope. Hope is something to look forward to."
Service programs: Mayhew also looked at Trinity's programs. The soup kitchen feeds between 500 and 700 people a month. The church also has Noah's Ark, a food and clothing distribution program, a seniors program, counseling for drug and alcohol abuse and Trinity Fellowship College of Christian ministries, which trains those entering ministries.
Still, there were people waiting hours before the soup kitchen opened. The pastor wondered how to make many of the programs available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"I realized we were only scratching the surface," Mayhew said. "We can always do more."
Still, the walk is "not about building that building. It [construction] may take five years. I have no illusion this is going to happen tomorrow.
Scripture doesn't command the government to help the poor, said Mayhew.
"That commandment has been given to the church, but some say 'Let others do what we are supposed to.' If everyone gave 10 percent of their income, it would wipe out hunger in this area."
The pastor said he sees complacency among nominal Christians who attend services and contribute money but do nothing else the rest of the week.
"You can't separate true Christianity from compassionate giving," said Mayhew. "Jesus said it really well. In giving, you receive.
"One of the messages we preach is: 'It's not about me.' It's about serving someone else. That creates energy."
Health matters: Energy requires health, as Mayhew discovered.
"The Lord spoke to my heart, saying he had a job for me to do. If I'm going to do it, I have to take care of my body," the pastor said.
In exercising to prepare for the walk, he said he found a heart problem that has been corrected. He walks between 10 and 17 miles a week, and has lost 22 pounds in the process.
Each day on the walk, an RV driven at various times by family members or associate pastor Don Monaco will pull ahead, leaving the pastor to catch up.
Mayhew said he doesn't plan to evangelize along the way. He does plan to contact a different church each day to ask permission to spend the night in its parking lot. He hopes those meetings will grow into connections between those churches and Trinity.
He'll be interviewed on WGFT-AM 1500 at 10 a.m. today and will give updates to the radio station along the way. Portions of the walk will also be videotaped and played in church.
On the last day, he'll start at the Western Reserve Middle School on U.S. Route 224, then cut through Mill Creek Park to Shields Road, and then to the church. That walk will take 12 hours. One hundred and twenty-one people will walk all or part of the way with him.
"People reaching out -- that's what sparks the life," he said.
XFor more information on the walk, the church programs, or to make a donation, call (330) 782-9051.