Seminary Undertaking Lenten Walk to Jerusalem for Health and Wellness

CHICAGO, IL (February 21, 2007) – Students, faculty and staff at North Park Theological Seminary begin their Walk to Jerusalem today.

"As a community we are attempting to walk the 6,675 miles between Chicago and Jerusalem over Lent, hopefully 'arriving' by Easter," says Mary Chase-Ziolek, director of the Center for Faith and Health and associate professor of health ministries.

"Walk to Jerusalem is a program to help people become more physically active using the concept of biblical journeys and stewardship of one's body," Chase-Ziolek says.

"The spiritual purpose is to recognize that care of our bodies is part of our spiritual journey and part of being good stewards of the gift of our life," Chase-Ziolek says. She adds that the Lenten exercise will lead people to become more active and healthy.

"Hopefully this will help communicate the importance of self care to sustain oneself in ministry," Chase-Ziolek says.

Participants will be able to keep track of their progress and that of their fellow participants by posting their mileage on the Blackboard web site accessible to the Seminary community.

St. John Health Parish Nursing program designed the Walk to Jerusalem, which usually begins in January with the goal of accumulating enough miles to reach Jerusalem by Easter. Chase-Ziolek acknowledges the late start but still believes the participants will be able to reach the destination.

St. John also has a fall version called the Walk to Bethlehem. This begins in September with the intent of reaching Bethlehem for the Christmas celebrations.

Chase-Ziolek encourages all faith communities to participate in a similar walk. More information can be found on the Walk to Jerusalem web site. St. John Health is comprised of nine hospitals plus more than 125 medical facilities in southeast Michigan.

A similar activity, Walking in the Way, is sponsored by the Health Ministries Association. The program identifies biblical journeys, such as the 75 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem or the 748 miles of Jonah's journey to Ninevah, as individual or group walking goals. Scripture is integrated into guidelines for developing a safe walking program, Chase-Ziolek says. Material can be purchased on the Association’s resources section.