The Legislative Mall was flooded with people and dotted with tents on Saturday. A replica of the Biblical Tabernacle stood in the middle of it all. Churches from across the area had gathered for the second Delaware March for Jesus.
"We came together to bring unity to area churches, to reach out to the people of Dover," said Ennio Zaragoza, chairman of the Delaware March for Jesus and pastor at Maranatha Christian Church in Dover.
All three counties in Delaware were represented in the more than 50 churches that turned out for the event.
The beginning of the march was signaled with the blowing of a shofar, a ram's horn that is traditionally blown during the Jewish New Year. Upon the sounding of the shofar, church members began marching from four pre-determined locations in Dover. Northern churches started from the Silver Lake Shopping Center on North State Street, while southern churches began at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital. Eastern churches marched from Maranatha Christian Church and western congregations began near the Bennie Smith Funeral Home.
The four groups of marchers converged at Division Street and Governors Avenue to form the shape of a cross. They then marched to Spence's Bazaar and paraded down Loockerman Street with Christian themed floats and musicians.
The parade ended at the Legislative Mall, where 12 tents had been set up and decorated with the colors of the 12 tribes of Israel. The tents were sponsored by local churches and featured games, literature and freebies.
The gathering at Legislative Mall also featured a stage for praise and worship music, and presentations that included a message by Pastor Steve Wingfield and The Extreme Team, a group of Christian body builders who performed and shared their message.
"This is important, especially now, at a time in which there is a lot of confusion as to where our country is going," Zaragoza said. "It's an important time to believe. It's a time for unity. It's a time for prayer, not a time to get separated."
Ken Martin, pastor of Faith Life Ministries in Dover, had a booth at the event.
"We are stronger when we stand together," he said. "We're here to support church unity. We have the opportunity the share the gospel."
Diane Martin, Ken's wife, also spoke about the importance of love.
"We're all supposed to love each other," Diane Martin said. "Without love how can you have unity?"
The event also aimed to bring together the area's children. Between 400 and 500 local youths were expected to attend, according to Zaragoza
"I'm here to represent my church and what I believe in," said Coleman Robinson of Camden. "As our times are changing I think strong churches are vital to the community. I think the march was a great idea."
Page 2 of 2 - Florsettia Batson came out to represent Calvary Baptist Church of Dover for personal reasons.
"I'm trying to let people know that Christian people can have fun, to tell people about Jesus," Batson said. "I want to let people know that we have all races and all kinds of churches out here. We're all here to praise the Lord. We're all here to celebrate the love of Jesus."
The city of Dover was very cooperative in the planning and execution of the march, Zaragoza said. A total of 15 people were baptized and more than 1,000 people attended the event.
"The march was a total success," Zaragoza said. "People committed themselves to Christ. Fifteen people were baptized. We gave out about 40 or 50 medals to honor veterans. I think it went very well."