In Tacoma, Washington, United Methodist missionary Adam Bray, 23, decided to embark on a 95-mile “peace walk” from Seattle to Olympia, Washington, in his concern about global violence and the prospect of a U.S. war with Iraq. His four-day journey, in support of peacemakers, was inspired by the 211-mile peace walk from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. in late October by Mennonite pastoral intern Peter Eash-Scott.
Bray began his walk on Thanksgiving as a symbolic gesture. "I think I'm guilty for taking what I have for granted. I rarely consider how lucky I am for having access to necessary things like food, shelter, water and the luxury of transportation," he says. "I wanted to reflect on what it means to be thankful and to cultivate feelings of peace and gratitude in my heart."
Throughout his 25-mile-a-day journey, Bray ate rations allotted to an average Iraqi citizen – rice, flour, oil, beans and cheese in meager amounts. He relied on the hospitality of United Methodist churches along his route for overnight housing. At times he was joined by other who shared his message of peace and his concern about the prospect of war with Iraq.
Retired pastor Arthur Campbell at one point walked alongside Bray and offered him encouraging words. "What you're doing as a young person brings hope to me and for my future grandchildren," Campbell told him. "I'm reminded of that story that says that when a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it causes a hurricane in Texas. What you're doing here can make a difference in places you least expect."
Bray hopes that his walk will prompt United Methodists to speak out against the injustice. He doesn’t believe that there can be peace without justice in this world. He continues to say, "Wars and terrorism will continue to persist so long as inequality and intolerance are prevalent."
Adam Bray graduated from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., and received his US commission from the United Board of Global Ministries. He served as an intern with the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, where he felt he was called to dedicate his life to working for social justice.
During this experience he was surprised by the indifferent reactions he received from many people. "I think this is tragic. The Bible warns us against being lukewarm, and Jesus offers us a terrific model for speaking out and acting out against injustice,” he says.
Bray believes that, “in this time of military buildup and rumored war, it is imperative that our churches care less about being sensitive to differing political views or losing members and just do what is morally right.”
Bray arrived at First United Methodist Church of Olympia several hours ahead of schedule on Sunday, December 1, 2002. He was weary and changed.
"I feel like I did a lot of growing along the way, although it feels too early to process all of it just yet," he says. "But one thing I'm certain of is that I am committed to working for social justice. I know I'll be doing similar things like this walk in the future."
By Cassandra Liu