Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Home of Reds to become host for a day of prayer



By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Saturday's all-day prayer fest at Great American Ball Park - Greater Cincinnati Prays and Worships Together - won't be like Billy Graham coming to town.

Nor will there be an elaborate stage in the middle of the baseball field, like a typical revival. And that, organizers say, is exactly their point.

"We want this to be a nameless, faceless event," said Ford Taylor, a former business consultant who is coordinating the event. "We want people to focus on Jesus, focus on God, not focus on us as individuals. We want this to be about transformation and about God."

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and lasting until midnight, Great American Ball Park will turn itself into a church of sorts in a day-long time of prayer for Cincinnati.

Prayer topics include government, business, families, churches, reconciliation and new beginnings. In between prayers, local contemporary Christian bands will perform on a perch above the outfield fence in right-centerfield, and the music will be played on the stadium public address system. On the field will be "worship art" provided by local churches, as well as a huge symbolic throne flanked by a blue and gold cross.

Organizers hope the day of prayer will help Cincinnati's Christian community come together as one. Taylor said prayer also can help the city improve in any of a numbers of ways - in race relations, in schools, in government, in cleanliness and in plain old being nicer to each other.

"We've tried a whole lot of different things in this city, so maybe it's time to give God a chance to change our city," said Jim Richards, an event spokesman.

"People should be prepared for a very welcoming atmosphere," said John W. Stevenson, a pastor at Heirs Family Worship Center in West Chester and in charge of worship for the event. "People will come and experience great worship music and heartfelt prayers. This is something Cincinnati needs, but it's also something every city needs."

To spread the word, organizers contacted more than 1,600 local churches and conducted about 40 information sessions at churches throughout the area over the past several months, said Richards.

Transformation Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky, the group Taylor began two years ago, is spending upward of $150,000 - all raised by donations - to rent the home of the Reds for a day of praise and prayer. T-shirts and compact discs will be sold to offset costs; some concession stands also will be open throughout the day.

"It's an expensive day at the ballpark," said Richards, "but we felt it was important for our community to come together and lift up our city."

Taylor, who attends Sonrise Community Church in Mariemont, says he devoted his life to the Lord three years ago. In 2001, Taylor says, he had a recurring vision of people gathered to worship in a stadium. The vision then became more of a vision for the city.

"This is just a piece of the healing process" for Cincinnati, Taylor said. "Transformation is something that happens over time. We want this city to turn to God. We want this to be a city of the Lord."

Some 70 people, given two to four minutes apiece, will lead the crowd in prayer.

"We're just praying the Lord will give us nice weather," said Judy Woltmann, an event coordinator.

If you go

The Greater Cincinnati Prays and Worships Together event will be held at Great American Ball Park from 10 a.m. until midnight Saturday.

Information: www.transformationcincinnati.com

To volunteer: (513) 665-9100 or e-mail info@transformationcincinnati.com

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E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com




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