Christians gather for Jerusalem March after COVID-19 hiatus

Tens of thousands watched as Christian pilgrims from around the world marched across the holy city of Jerusalem for the first time since 2019.

 The 2022 ICEJ Jerusalem March takes place; October 13th, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The 2022 ICEJ Jerusalem March takes place; October 13th, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Jerusalem March, a long-held part of the ​​International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem’s (ICEJ) Feast of Tabernacles festival that traditionally brings thousands of Christian worshippers to Jerusalem, finally returned on Thursday after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tens of thousands watched as Christian pilgrims from around the world marched across the holy city of Jerusalem as Mayor Moshe Lion was joined by ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler.

“What a joy for our Christian pilgrims to be back in the Jerusalem March greeting Israelis along the streets of the capital city after two years of corona travel restrictions,” ICEJ President Dr. Juergen Buehler told Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion as they led off the March this afternoon. “People who came now after two-and-a-half years of COVID say they are amazed at how much Jerusalem has changed.”

 Jerusalem March-ICEJ President Juergen Buehler-Mayor Moshe Lion-Fiji Pastor Manasa Kolivuso; October 13th, 2022. (credit: COURTESY ICEJ) Jerusalem March-ICEJ President Juergen Buehler-Mayor Moshe Lion-Fiji Pastor Manasa Kolivuso; October 13th, 2022. (credit: COURTESY ICEJ)

“Yes, there is no argument that Jerusalem in these days is under big development in all areas,” responded Mayor Lion. “But I must tell you we missed you these two years. And now you came here to the March, and we are very happy to host you.”

Pilgrims from across the globe

 Jerusalem March - Fiji delegation ; October 13th, 2022. (credit: COURTESY ICEJ) Jerusalem March - Fiji delegation ; October 13th, 2022. (credit: COURTESY ICEJ)

This year’s Christian marchers included a delegation from Egypt, as well as an Iranian exile waving a Persian flag from before the Islamic revolution to express his hope for restored peaceful ties with Israel.  

“It was beautiful to represent my country in the Jerusalem March today,” said Peyman Motjtahedi, an Iranian-born Feast pilgrim who now serves as a worship leader in a large church in Dallas, Texas. 

“This was a very important part of my first visit ever to Israel, and I was thrilled to see the amazing reaction of Jewish people I met along the route. When I told them I loved them as an Iranian, they were shocked. Several people had tears in their eyes, especially the Persian Jews who recognized my flag,” Motjtahedi continued.

A return to the holy land

“It was such a treat for me to meet all the Israelis today along the March route and to tell them we support and pray for them.”

Manasa Kolivuso, pastor from Fiji

This year’s Feast gathering has drawn over 2,000 Christians from more than 70 nations, marking the return of Christian tourism to Israel after two years of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Manasa Kolivuso, a pastor from Fiji, said: “It was such a treat for me to meet all the Israelis today along the March route and to tell them we support and pray for them. This is my first time to Israel and we are already talking about chartering a whole flight from Fiji for next year at Sukkot.”

The seven-day festival will conclude with the Christian pilgrims going down to the western Negev on Sunday for a special solidarity rally and tree-planting ceremony with the local Israeli communities in the Gaza border area.