Pilgrimage for Peace: Group marching from Philadelphia to DC aims to make difference in Gaza

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Wednesday, February 14, 2024
Group marching from Philadelphia to DC aims to make difference in Gaza
Group marching from Philadelphia to DC aims to make difference in Gaza

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Hundreds of people plan to participate in a demonstration that spans from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. The event, called the Pilgrimage for Peace, was created by a multi-faith coalition that is disillusioned with what's happening in Gaza.

That group started their journey Wednesday morning at the historic Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia.

"We are here today as ordinary citizens, people of faith," said Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the National Council of the Churches of Christ as she spoke to the group inside the sanctuary.

Multiple faiths gathered inside the church for one purpose: peace.

"War, violence and death is an abomination in the eyes of God," said Ariel Gold with the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

The group took their mission from the sanctuary to the streets as they marched through the area making their first stop at Independence National Park where they sang and listened to speakers. Organizers say the journey on foot to Washington D.C. is much more than a march.

"It's not a march," said Rev. Stephen A. Green, chairman of Faith for Black Lives. "This is a pilgrimage. This is a sacred journey."

Pilgrimage for Peace is happening in 92 cities around the world to call for change in Gaza.

"This is not about Israelis vs. Palestinians, this is about our values that make us human," said Green.

Participants want three things: a ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages and unrestricted humanitarian aid for the people of Palestine.

"Too many lives have been lost on both sides. The horrendous attack on October 7th, the horrendous taking of hostages and a horrendous response," said McKenzie.

The Pilgrimage for Peace is a collaboration of activists, artists and leaders of many faiths. More than 300 people have signed up for the journey to D.C. which participants will complete in a relay-style form.

"We're passing the baton in each city," said Green. "New folks are joining us in each city."

They're hoping to get the attention of the nation's leaders once they arrive in D.C.

"We're calling for a meeting with the president and vice president and senior leadership in the White House as well as Congress to urge them to act," said Green.

They hope to send a message to the nation's capital that they hope echoes around the world.

"We see a variety of voices coming together on day one," said Green. "We can only imagine how this will grow by the time we get to Washington."

The walk to D.C. will take eight days.