Sunday, October 24, 2010

24 OCT 10: Men's Morning Out

"My stomach was in knots," the man told me Saturday morning. Now what would you guess brought this on? An upcoming wedding? A big college football bet? Or had a local candidate finally realized he'd made a big campaign mistake - by daring to criticize Mayor Jim Wetherington?

The answer was none of the above. Charles Lawhon was describing his emotions five minutes the start of his big Saturday event - a men's prayer rally at Lakebottom Park. After weeks of promotion, Lawhon didn't see many men gathered around. But he didn't have to worry - plenty of guys showed up at the last minute, after sleeping in as long as possible.

About 80 men eventually gathered at the Lakebottom Park bandshell for an hour of prayer focusing on various Columbus needs. Even a few women showed up - which was OK, because no one brought up that mess at Midland Middle School....

Charles Lawhon first told me about his vision for this men's prayer event in August. He said God gave him a vision of men standing around the Lakebottom Park football field. That didn't quite happen Saturday - so perhaps city schedulers put football "Pee Wees" before praying people.

But the bandshell worked well for music by Columbus worship leader Jonathan Moore. His wife Lisa usually sings with him, but she was absent for some reason. I can't imagine a doorbuster sale at Kohl's would be that much more compelling....

One of Charles Lawhon's announcements promoting "A Call to Prayer" promised NO politicians would speak. That turned out to be true Saturday, even though a few elected officials and candidates on hand. Several local ministers led the group in prayers - but hmmmm, the two ministers running for mayor were noticeably absent.

Mayor Wetherington, Police Chief Ricky Boren and Councilor Gary Allen were among those praying at Lakebottom Park. At one point, all the men were asked to place their hands on the local leaders to "pray over them." But don't worry -- about five police officers stood off to the side, ready to intervene.

(Yes, that picture looks like someone put his hand right on the police chief's face. A few civil rights activists missed the opportunity of a lifetime here....)

The man who led the prayer for elected officials noted an election for Columbus's next mayor is approaching. "You've already chosen him for that office," he prayed in faith. Him?! Uh-oh - Teresa Tomlinson could be in a little trouble.

At my regular worship service later in the day, a man asked about the racial mix at A Call to Prayer. It appeared the crowd was about two-thirds Caucasian. But an African-American minister described it as a "rainbow" of people - and he did NOT poll the crowd about their sexual orientation.

The hour of prayer admittedly had a few challenging moments for me. One prayer asked for forgiveness upon criminals - but I've heard one local pastor say criminals will scoff at you for forgiving them if they haven't repented. Not to mention have their attorneys say nothing wrong happened in the first place....

Another man asked the group to "pray crime down." I hope I heard him right -- about praying it down IN Columbus, not ON it.

A Call to Prayer had an emotional ending, when Brian Hite of WBOJ-FM "88.5 the Truth" was asked to speak. Hite noted Heath Jackson was murdered only a few blocks from Lakebottom Park in September. And he offered "HJ" stickers for anyone interested in paying tribute to him. Who knows - it might get you special treatment at Howard Johnson's.

I've never been to a Promise Keepers rally, so I can't compare Saturday's prayer event for men with that. But the praying seemed more emotional than I've felt at National Day of Prayer programs. Perhaps that's because Charles Lawhon attends an Assembly of God, while Baptists organize the National Day of Prayer event in Phenix City. Some Baptists might even have stopped Jonathon Moore's guitar....

I went to Lakebottom Park primarily to pray on a Sabbath morning -- so I didn't take a camera or recorder. The pictures and video from A Call to Prayer are NOT my own. If something more humorous in the news had occurred this weekend, I might have focused on that -- but sadly, the Kansas football team keeps losing.

Now that I feel "prayed up," let's get caught up on other weekend news:

+ Nancy Boren with the Muscogee County Election Board predicted to WRBL there's a "99 percent chance" of a runoff vote at the end of November. Isn't that news we've all been waiting to hear - four more weeks of attack ads?!

+ Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr showed off patrol cars which have been converted to run on "propane autogas." The conversion costs $6,000 per car - and it's paid for by the "streets and safety" sales tax. Did you realize your public safety money was going for this? Instead of "boys in blue," some of it is burning bright green.

+ Port Columbus hosted the "Southern Pirate Festival." What does a Southern pirate sing? "Yee-haw-haw and a bottle of Jack Daniels."

+ WTVM covered the grand opening of the new Outside World store on Broadway. The owners picked a perfect time to open this - as some SOA Watch protesters will prefer sleeping bags and tents to staying in nice motels.

+ WRBL showed a rerun of "Two-and-a-Half Men" Saturday at 11:00 p.m. So for now, the return of weekend news is on Sundays only - and if the managers drop the 11:00 Friday night news, we'll know the station now is run by Seventh-Day Adventists.

+ Auburn remained undefeated in college football by lathering Louisiana State 24-17. Cam Newton is now the second Southeastern Conference quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season - and somewhere in Denver, Tim Tebow is claiming he taught Newton everything he knows.

+ Georgia conquered Kentucky 44-31. The Bulldogs suddenly are within a half-game of the S.E.C. East lead -- and the scheduling of that Idaho State game in November to assure a winning record looks brilliant.

+ Instant Message to Major League Baseball: Talk about a perfect World Series match-up for this election year! It's George W. Bush's old team versus Pelosi-Ville.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: Who or what is a "Taginator?" I had a close encounter with one....

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