Mercer Island church cancels services to support cancer research

On Sunday, March 20, the pews at Mercer Island Covenant Church will be empty, the halls silent, and Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos won’t be taking his place behind the pulpit for his weekly sermon.

Instead, nearly 250 of the church's 300 members will don track suits and sneakers and run, walk or volunteer for the 39th annual Mercer Island Rotary Half Marathon at the Community Center at Mercer View. Even Pastor Greg will be walking the 13.1 miles around Mercer Island.

This is the second year the Mercer Island congregation has canceled Sunday morning services in order to put "feet to their faith" and serve as a church in the community. The pastor is a member of the Mercer Island Rotary Club, which is the primary sponsor of the annual half marathon that raises money for colon cancer research. More than 5,000 participants are expected to participate in the first of Western Washington's premier running events.

The Half Marathon is actually six timed races starting at the Community Center at Mercer View with the half marathon walk (13.1 miles) at 7:30 a.m., followed by a half mile kid’s dash at 8 a.m., a 10 K (6.2 mile) run at 8:30 a.m., the half marathon run (13.1 miles) at 9 a.m. and the 5K (3 miles) run/walk starting at 9:30 a.m.

Last year (through race registration and donations), the Mercer Island Rotary raised $16,000 for Washington Colon Cancer Stars, an organization that supports people with colon cancer, $76,000 to colon cancer awareness organizations, and $160,000 to other Rotary charities.

“We’re still talking about Mercer Island Covenant Church, and how they really got involved last year,” said Dawn Naye, Race Coordinator, who noted that it takes 300 volunteers to coordinate the 5,000 race participants. “The church was a complete godsend!”

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Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos can be reached for comment at (630) 337-8636.

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