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Faiths Unite for 25-Mile Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage in Spokane


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Faiths Unite for 25-Mile Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage in Spokane

By Cindy Hval | FāVS News

On March 30, Christians, Jews, Muslims and people from multiple faiths in Spokane and the surrounding area will embark on a 25-mile pilgrimage in solidarity and prayer for a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.

Led by a group of local pastors, churches and Christian leaders, the walk falls on Holy Saturday, a somber day of lament and reflection, but no faith background is needed to participate. The pilgrimage is for those with a passion for the sanctity of human life and a desire for peace to prevail.

Organizer Jer Swigart, co-founder of Global Immersion, intimately understands the need for peace.

No stranger to conflict

Global Immersion’s mission is to form everyday peacemakers and to develop leaders skilled in reconciliation to mend divides.

Jer Swigart, Global Immersion co-founder

“We mediate conflict from battle zones to boardrooms to form conflict-competent leaders and teams. We help them become instruments of peace,” Swigart explained. “We are a pro-human peacemaking organization.”

His work has taken him to Israel and Palestine over a dozen times in the past 12 years.

“I was on the ground when the bombs and missiles fell on Oct. 7,” Swigart recalled. “I woke in the West Bank to missiles exploding over me. I navigate war zones all the time, but I knew this was going to be different.”

It took seven days for him to be evacuated.

On a mission for peace

For the past five months, the conversations he had with Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers have shaped his work and the work of Global Immersion.

“I was mobilized by Israeli and Palestinian colleagues to return to the U.S. to grow a more pro-human understanding and response to this crisis,” he said.

The Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage is a way to further awareness and encourage a compassionate response both globally and locally.

A global movement

The Pilgrimage started with one man in Australia, who, heartbroken by the escalation of conflict, was moved to walk the distance of Gaza (approximately 25 miles) in prayerful solidarity.

“It’s become a global ecumenical movement,” Swigart said. “More than 180 cities on every continent are participating.”

He said it’s especially fitting the pilgrimage launched during Lent, a season of confession and grief.

“Pilgrimage is an ancient discipline practiced by faith traditions for centuries. It’s a journey of transformation, which we travel incomplete and in process, with a sincere longing to accompany one another,” he said.

Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage in Spokane

Swigart said with the ultimate goal of a lasting, just peace for Israelis and Palestinians, participants are invited to journey the length of Gaza through Greater Spokane on March 30.

The pilgrimage will begin at Gateway Regional Park at 8 a.m. and conclude at First Presbyterian Church of Spokane at 8 p.m.

The pilgrimage route is accessible to all walkers and rollers, and there’s no requirement to walk the entire 25 miles. Five sacred pauses are scheduled, and participants can join or leave the route at any time. 

During the pauses, liturgies accessible across creeds and traditions will be offered, with ASL interpretation provided.

“It’s a beautiful ecumenical movement,” said Swigart. “The table has expanded locally to include Jewish and Muslim voices. Regardless of ideology or theology, the invitation is to find common ground.”

He hopes the pilgrimage will be transformative for individuals, as well as for the community.

“This could be a really significant moment in our community. We are walking for the sanctity of human life and toward a comprehensive conclusion to this violence,” said Swigart. “Come as you are — imperfect, incomplete, and in process on this walk of solidarity.”

What: Gaza Ceasefire Pilgrimage

When: March 30, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

For more information, including route map visit the event’s Facebook page.

Cindy Hval
Cindy Hvalhttp://cindyhval.com
Cindy Hval is the author of "War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation," and has been a  columnist and correspondent for The Spokesman-Review newspaper since 2006. In addition, her stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies including 12 volumes of the "Chicken Soup For the Soul" series. Cindy is the mother of four sons, Nana of twin grandsons and is owned by two cats, also boys. She and her husband, Derek, recently celebrated their 37th anniversary. Her idea of heaven is a room full of books and all the time in the world to read them.

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