Mennonites from all over the country rode up escalators, trekked across a sky bridge and walked through hallways in song and silence during the Mennonite Women USA and Mennonite Men-sponsored prayer walk yesterday afternoon.

The walk began with a hymn, led by Peggy Carter. Together, the group filled the convention center lobby with five-part harmony while they sang “Unity.”

Marlene Bogard, director of Mennonite Women USA, addresses those gathered for prayer walk.

In the Rosen Plaza Hotel the group squeezed together in a hallway. Marlene Bogard, director of Mennonite Women USA, welcomed the group to pray silently, and then, as they felt led, voice their prayers to the rest of the group.

“For the gift of your church, from the North to the South, to the East and to the West,” prayed one participant.

“For the Executive Board and staff,” said another.

From there, the prayer walk made its way back to the convention center lobby, where Carter led the group in singing “They’ll Know We are Christians.”

Bogard called the event “serendipitous.” After all, Mennonite Women USA planned to have their traditional dinner. But when costs became too high, Bogard called Steve Thomas, coordinator of Mennonite Men, and asked to host an event together.

“We came up with this idea of doing a prayer walk instead as nice, free alternative,” Bogard said. “But also as a way of centering our hearts and minds in Christ prior to the rest of the business.”

Elizabeth Soto, a participant, said prayer walks are an important part of convention.

“I believe in the power of prayer, but as a collective….We have done this prayer walk in Phoenix and in Kansas City. Why not join a body and start by praying together?”

George Thompson, another participant, said the prayer walk was exactly what the church needs right now: “The prayer walk, in particular, is to seek the spirit of God to be with us, to guide us through [this week]. These are difficult times.”

To close the prayer walk, Thomas invited the group to go in peace:

“Let us continue to walk together in a time where people are walking in many different directions. Let us remember who we are, whose we are: sisters and brothers in Christ, part of the one church family.”

Read the full issue of the Orlando Squeeze here.