Urging Christians and Jews to “embrace their common ancestry,” a pro-Israel group organized a march in downtown St. Louis Sunday, during which nearly 1,000 people walked several blocks to the Mississippi River to pray for an hour under the city’s famous Gateway Arch monument.
Organizers of the “March Through the Arch” called the event a “religious and political activist demonstration” that stressed the solidarity of the international Judeo-Christian community with the nation and people of Israel.
“Christians used to feel separated from Jews,” said Angus Wootten, founder of the Tennessee-based Messianic Israel Alliance, which sponsored the event. “[But] today, millions of Christians have embraced their identity as brothers to the Jews and part of Israel.”
Some local Jews expressed caution concerning the purposes of the event, since international Jewish-Christian relations have historically been strained over matters such as Christian proselytizing. But organizers said the agenda of the march was purely prayer.
“We just wanted to get everybody to stand and support Israel together and focus on what we have in common rather than what divides us,” John Diffenderfer, Messianic Israel Alliance spokesman, told Charisma.
“People from both Jewish and Christian backgrounds [came],” he said. “But it was primarily … an ecumenical event. We weren’t out to convert anybody.”
Instead, Diffenderfer said the rally consisted of prayers of repentance over the divisions that have existed among various ethnic groups through the years, as well as between Jews and Christians.
He said that representatives of the African-American, Native American and Caucasian communities participated in praying as well as Jews and Christians from as far away as South Africa, Australia and Mexico. “We repented for the generations and for all that has gone wrong over the centuries—the last 2,000 years, really,” Diffenderfer said. “We humbled ourselves so that … God [could] provide unity.”
According to the group’s founder, the location and direction of the march also held special significance. “The arch is symbolic in that it signified the westward expansion of civilization,” Wootten said. “Biblical prophecy states that the people of God will return to the land of Israel from the West. We [marched] east, toward Israel and through the Gateway Arch, to indicate our impending return.”
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