Washington Avenue will be transformed into a corridor of communion on May 30, when Detroit Lakes hosts a March for Jesus.

It’ll be the first time Detroit Lakes has hosted such a march in more than 30 years.

A parade of prayer and praise, the march has been held annually in communities all over the world since the late 1980s. By the year 2000, as many as 60 million people from 180 countries had taken part in the massive global march. After that, the founding organizers disbanded, and the individually organized marches that continued have garnered less attention.

In 2020, however, the March for Jesus is going through a “resurrection” of sorts, Barry Schoder said, and that’s why Detroit Lakes is bringing it back again. He said the community last held a March for Jesus in the mid-‘80s.

Schoder, a former pastor who organizes a number of Christian events in town, is now leading the organizational efforts behind the march. A team of about a dozen people from various churches in Detroit Lakes are working with him; they’re currently finalizing a vision for the march, as well as spreading the word about it through local media, social media and church bulletins.

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An interdenominational celebration of Jesus Christ, the march is intended to create “an atmosphere of evangelism, prayer efforts and reconciliation,” with Jesus as the primary focus, according to the website for the international event, themarchforjesus.org.

The Detroit Lakes march will include vehicles, floats and individual and group marchers. Schoder said there’ll be signs and banners carried, and music will play over a PA system as the parade travels through town. The march will culminate in prayers of dedication and a “feed-a-thon” with live music.

The parade will start at 10 a.m., traveling south down Washington Avenue for several blocks before ending at the City Park and Beach area about an hour later. The live music and “feed-a-thon” will begin at the park around noon and continue until 5 p.m.

During that hour between the parade’s end and the start of the food and music, prayers of dedication will be held at the City Park bandshell. Then, the bandshell will be taken over by musicians ranging from kids’ choirs to soloists, local bands to the Lakes Area Chorale. Their performances will be varied but mostly casual, and some will feature well-known songs that spectators can sing along with.

Schoder is hoping that the “mass, mega smorgasbord feed-a-thon, for lack of a better term,” will involve all the local churches, with volunteers from the churches coming together to make and serve food throughout the afternoon. There will also be individual prayer stations set up around the park during this time.

“The idea is that people can eat all afternoon, pray, and listen to music,” Schoder said.

Local radio will play a specially made March for Jesus playlist throughout the parade, Schoder said. There will be a choreographed segment during the march, with dancers and flag twirlers.

Banners will also be a big part of the march, with a banner stating “Jesus is Lord over Detroit Lakes” carried at the front, and other banners carried by groups marching together as part of the lineup: Married couples, for example, will carry a “Marriage is Honorable” banner, and parents pushing strollers will march behind an “Out of the Mouths of Babes” banner. Schoder said there will also be bannered sections for teenagers and tribal or international marchers, among others.

Marchers are also free to make and carry their own banners and signs. People of all ages are invited to participate, as are other nearby communities.

“Initially my vision was that it would just involve the Detroit Lakes community, but we’re going to expand it to include communities within a 40-mile perimeter of Detroit Lakes,” Schoder said. “We want to jam-pack the streets with people.”

The march is part of a broader effort by Schoder to make Detroit Lakes “a beacon of righteousness.”

March for Jesus

The Detroit Lakes March for Jesus will be May 30. For more information or to volunteer for the march, call Barry Schoder at 972-757-0078. He and the other organizers are especially looking for people who have or are willing to make floats (let him know by March 30 so the design can be approved), as well as church volunteers for the "feed-a-thon" and musicians who are willing to play for at least 20 minutes.