About 30 believers stepped out in faith on Sunday, taking part in Detroit Lakes' first-ever Prayer Walk of Faith.
The group met at Veterans Memorial Park at about 3 p.m. for an opening prayer, then walked down Washington Avenue to the City Beach, worshiping and singing. A large cross and burning barrel were set up in front of the Pavilion, near the water's edge of Detroit Lake, and people were able to offer their personal prayers there. The event ended with a moment of silence.
"It was amazing," organizer Barbara Stambach said after the event. "The weather was great... It was nice and sunny and people came from different churches. It was really nice."
Stambach said the purpose of the Walk of Faith was to gather people together in a positive and uplifting way.
"We need more of this," she said. "We need to get people to come out and come together, and we need goodness... The first two Commandments are to love God above all else, and to love each other, and we need to start doing that. We need to start lifting people up, and stop being so divided."
Fed up with all the negativity, violence and division she was seeing in the news, and at the same time feeling the pain of people close to her who are hurting or sick, Stambach said she reached her "breaking point" in early May. She sat down and prayed to God, she said, "and he gave me the vision" to organize the Walk of Faith.
"Immediately I saw people, all together, all walking together, and God gave me verses and things to pray for that need to be prayed for," she said. "He told me that there are so many people out there that are like I am, who are tired but don't believe there's anything they can do ... He wanted everybody to realize that they matter, and he hears their prayers."
God also showed her a vision of a wooden cross at the water's edge, and a burning barrel, she said, which ended up being important parts of the event. The barrel symbolizes "an open door to him, for offering prayers," Stambach explained, while the cross at the water is symbolic of the Bible story about Peter walking on water.
"God calls to him (Peter), and with faith, he was able to walk on water," she said. "But when he got into his head, he started to sink."
The Walk of Faith was not associated with any particular church, and was open to anybody and everybody. Some people came for the whole thing, while others joined in for the initial or closing ceremonies, or just the walk in-between. Mayor Matt Brenk attended and spoke, and a couple visitors from as far away as Florida and North Carolina took part. The rest were from the Detroit Lakes area.
Stambach has lived in Detroit Lakes for the past 14 years, and she said she loves the community but fears it's becoming less unified, with many people not even knowing who their neighbors are anymore. The Walk of Faith is one way of bridging the divide.
"I feel like this is something we need to do more frequently - gather people and make people realize that they are a community together," she said. "Every single person makes this community what it is, and without one of them, it's just not the same."
She plans to organize another walk next year, and hopes it'll bring out even more local community members, to make a bigger impact. Those who attended this year, she said, told her they were really glad they came.
"I can't even describe the feeling and the environment, people's reactions and emotions," Stambach said of the walk. "There were tears and it was just beautiful. It was not me, it was all (God), and it was just beautiful to see. I'm just thankful I got to be a part of it."