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It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Sumas, Wash., as people of all ages laced up their running shoes and chased their pastor from the church parking lot to downtown.

On June 28, 109 runners and walkers participated in the first Faster Than the Pastor 5K race and 3K walk, facilitated by Sumas Christian Reformed Church and two neighboring churches.

The event was a fund-raiser for the Sumas Food Bank and the Community Clothesline, two ministries run by local churches that provide food and clothing for people in need. Approximately $1,300 was raised for each charity.

Pastor Mark Van Dyke of Sumas CRC said, “We didn’t want any of the money to go toward something in our own church. This was an effort to show the unity of the three Sumas churches, because we really do love and support one another.”

Four pastors, including Van Dyke, dressed in bright yellow T-shirts and ran or walked the race. “At one point toward the end of the race, I heard a child behind me yell to her dad, ‘There’s the pastor! Catch him, Dad!’ They passed me shortly thereafter,” said Van Dyke.

Many members of Sumas CRC volunteered by holding up signs directing runners, passing out water, registering participants, and assisting with first aid. Reanne Davis, one of the organizers, said, “My favorite thing about the event was seeing all the participants from the community come out to support the local charities.”

Some elite runners competed to win, while others participated to have fun and be healthy. Sumas CRC member Amanda Heeringa said, “I had a great time. In the weeks leading up to the event, I gained a huge motivation to take care of the body God gave me and continue to do so with running and eating healthy.”

Sumas CRC hopes to make this race an annual event.

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