Saturday, June 14, 2003

Faith matters: Ballpark open for prayer



By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

Great American Ball Park is the only stadium in Major League Baseball with a dedicated players' chapel. But next Saturday, the whole stadium will be transformed into a chapel.

The ballpark will open from 10 a.m. to midnight for its first non-baseball event, "Cincinnati Prays and Worships Together."

The idea, to bring people of all races and Christian denominations together, is the vision of Ford Taylor, a businessman from Paris, Texas, who has started a local movement called Transformation.

The movement has brought people out to pray on Fountain Square at noon for months. He's hoping it will bring them to the ballpark for as little or as long as they want to keep praying.

"Transformation is about God changing hearts one person at a time," he said. "And that change of individuals' hearts will result in a change in the way we do things in the city."

Pastors from all over the city have joined Taylor in making the vision of prayer for the city a reality.

Pastor John Stevenson, of Heirs Family Worship Center in West Chester, shares that vision and has been working with Taylor and a core group of 20 people, including pastors, business people and community leaders.

"It's about each of us adding our piece to the puzzle," he said.

Renting Great American costs $100,000 plus operational costs, but for this event, the Reds and the county reduced the fee to $50,000, said Declan Mullin, director of ballpark operations.

"We're looking forward to it," he said. "This will be a great event to open the ballpark for non-baseball events."

Transformation organizers plan to use donations to pay for the rental costs and haven't spent much on advertising. Instead they are relying on word of mouth and announcements at churches to bring people to the stadium.

The event, which is free and open to the public, includes times set aside for prayer about certain topics, including government at 11:45 a.m. and the United States and the world at 8:30 p.m.

Taylor expects it will take more than 1,200 volunteers to make things run smoothly. But the real success will be in the changes God brings as the result of earnest prayer and soul searching, Taylor said.

"Transformation is a process God is taking our city through," he said. The result will be "that there would be a change in the city and that change would look like a lower crime rate, a growing economy, people being nicer to each other, churches growing and more people being led to Christ.

"The stadium event is really just a piece of that vision."

For more information call 665-9100 or visit info@transformationcincinnati.com.

Men's brunch

Word of Deliverance Ministries for the World Inc. is hosting a Men's Fellowship Brunch honoring fathers at 11 a.m. today at Receptions Banquet and Conference Center, 5975 Boymel Drive in Fairfield.

Bishop Bobby Hilton will speak on "What is Manhood?" and Senior Elder Earl Thomas on "Leadership in Worship." Tickets are $20 adults, $15 for students 18 and under.

To submit religion news, e-mail kvance@fuse.net or send a fax to 755-4150.




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