National Capital Army walks, witnesses on Mall in Washington
By: Brad Rowland
On Sunday, Nov. 1, more than 100 representatives of The Salvation Army led a prayer walk in the heart of the nation’s capital. Officers, soldiers, musicians and individuals from the community joined in the walk, which covered the area of Washington, D.C., from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.
Majors Mark and Rhea Woodcock, National Capital area commanders, were inspired to lead the walk after attending the Washington Prayer March 2020, led by well-known Christian leader Franklin Graham, which took place in late September in the same location.
“I was just blown away that, as Mark and I were walking on the National Mall during that march, people saw our uniforms and came up to us,” Major Rhea Woodcock said. “People thanked us over and over again for what The Salvation Army is doing. We ran into people from around the country that found us just from our uniforms and, after the march, Mark said to me that he wished he had brought a (Salvation Army) flag.”
That gathering placed a sense of urgency on the heart of Majors Woodcock and, without the ability to hold what is usually a quarterly soldier’s rally in the area due to COVID-19 concerns, the prayer march emerged. The event also included musical ministry from the National Capital Band, led by Dr. Steve Kellner, in a gathering that combined worship and prayer in a public setting that allowed for social distancing.
On the morning of the walk, rain was in the forecast, leading to some doubt as to whether the gathering should indeed take place. However, the skies cleared and, at 3 p.m. local time, the sun was shining on The Salvation Army’s efforts.
“We sent a message of peace, and also of being inclusive,” said Major Woodcock. “While the concert was happening, we met a young lady who was running, and she stopped to listen. This young lady joined with us on our prayer walk as well, speaking with some of our officers, and she is new to the area to start a new job with the government. She’s a believer but doesn’t know anyone locally. She told us that the Lord told her to take a run that afternoon and, due to the rain, she delayed her run to the perfect time when we were out there.
“Eventually, it was the perfect weather day, and she felt that it was exactly where she was supposed to be. She was even able to make a connection with another runner that joined us, and both young women were so appreciative of that time together. That’s just one example, but we were joined by many great people and were really pleased with the feedback and the experience.”
Major Woodcock indicates that the group extended prayers for lawmakers, first responders, military personnel, social and racial justice and the overall needs of the country. There is also a hope for a similar event in the spring, depending on weather and COVID-19 protocols, though the November walk accomplished its goals in bringing people together in a safe manner.
“A lot of our purpose was to come together as soldiers in our Army, fervently believing that our prayers make a difference,” Major Woodcock said. “That was our goal and I think we accomplished it.”