Bearing the cross
Pastor plans 70-mile journey
Sunday, May 04, 2014 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - A 70-mile drive from Menominee to Kingsford takes about an hour and 20 minutes. Walking there, even under the best conditions, could take the better part of a day-and-a-half. Why walk when you can drive? Ask David Pennell, the pastor of Abundant Life church in Menominee.
Pastor David Pennel will walk 70 miles Monday to Iron Mountain from his Abundant Life church just North of Menominee and to raise money for the homeless shelter there.
"I'm hoping to bring awareness to a lot of the problems we're having in the community," he said. "Problems like homelessness, addiction and on the Christianity side of things, the lost."
Pennell plans to set out at 6 a.m. Wednesday and arrive by 6 p.m. Thursday night. By the way, he'll be carrying an 8 foot wooden cross weighing about 25 pounds. "I won't be handing it off to anybody," he said. "This is my cross to bear, my burden. I've had people ask to help me and I refused."
Pennell turns 52 the day of his walk. He is diabetic, has tendonitis in both shoulders and just two years ago broke his left leg in six places from the knee down. He said he's walking better now than before he broke his leg and that he's been trying to get in three to eight miles a day in preparation for Wednesday. Several members of his church and others plan to join him on his journey, at least part way. He'll be heading up U.S. 41 to Powers and then U.S. 2 to Kingsford.
"Not only am I physically getting ready for this walk, but God's getting me physically and mentally ready," he said.
While the cross will weigh heavy on his shoulder, it's nothing compared to the problems he sees locally and wants to fix. His goal is to raise $100,000 to help build additional space at his church to house homeless people.
"I could have filled this place up three times over this past winter," said Pennell. "We're into May and I still get calls a couple times a week for people who are homeless and I'm full."
There are currently 28 people in the Abundant Life church shelter. The goal is to add enough rooms to house 60, basically doubling its size.
"When some people think of the homeless, they think of them as dirty and nasty and suffering from mental illness," said Pennell. "That's really not the case. Probably only 25 to 30 percent of the people who have come through here deal with addiction. We're seeing a large amount of people who just have bad things happen to them. Most people don't realize but they're only one or two paychecks away from being here."
Pennell said he also sees people struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. He's not set up to provide treatment for those issues, but he does help get people into rehabilitation programs. Before anyone is allowed to stay in the shelter they must have gone through detoxification and treatment.
"We've taken Christ out of the picture so much. We're a breeding ground for Satan," he said. "In my mind, the answer is getting right with Christ and taking control back in the two cities and stopping this."
Pennell said his mission is the only one in Menominee, Dickinson and Delta counties that accepts single men and women and families. The next closest one in the U.P. is in Marquette.