Thousands attend SONDay 2000 church service

 — Jan. 3, 20003 janv. 2000

by John Goranson, Saskatchewan News Network

Saskatoon’s largest-ever church service drew thousands of Christians intent on celebrating their faith together at Saskatchewan Place, despite -22 degree temperatures and a frustrating 45-minute traffic jam Sunday.

“It’s so packed. I’ve never seen it this full for anything — and for a church thing that’s really great,” said Cindi Hiebert, who normally goes to Martensville Alliance Church on Sunday mornings.

“It’s awesome. I don’t think they expected the response they got,” said Debbie Funk, a city resident and member of Cornerstone Mennonite Church.

Hiebert and Funk prayed for Christian unity and charity at SONday 2000, an upbeat service for Christians of all denominations organized by local pastors and hundreds of volunteers.

Thousands of dollars were raised for the Friendship Inn and its service to the hungry and lonely, said Lou Leventhal, pastor of Lakewood Baptist Church and an executive planner.

“We’re just counting the first offering, but we know people have been very generous,” Leventhal said Sunday afternoon. He compared it to a smaller event two years ago that raised over $10,000.

SONday started with about 13,000 Christians praising God, cheering, laughing and listening to American author Philip Yancey talk about how God helps those who don’t deserve it.

Christians and their church have always failed to live up to the faith, Yancey said. But God will repair the damage caused by the unfaithful church if Christians ask, he added.

“I learned one thing as I looked at the history about God: God goes where he’s wanted.”

On stage at one end of the stadium and on two huge video screens, Yancey challenged worshippers to build a community that “operates by different rules.”

“It would be characterized by the unity around you and love for those with whom you differ.”

If it’s built, said Yancey, the guest speaker at SONday 2100 will not address thousands of Christians in Saskatoon, but hundreds of thousands.

With this prediction, applause echoed through the stadium and Yancey’s smile glowed on two huge video screens above each wing of the stage.

“I was energized,” Norma Isaac commented after the service.

The idea for SONday 2000 “just came” more than 2 1/2 years ago in a prayer meeting, said Leventhal.

“We were talking about people having parties on the new millennium, and the whole fact of the new millennium is that Jesus Christ came, so that’s what this is about.”

The name SONday is derived from Sunday and Son’s day, symbolizing that the day was devoted to Jesus, whom Christians believe to be the son of God.

SONday’s morning gathering was followed by lunch for 5,000 at FlexiCoil Place, an afternoon celebration featuring the Christian band Poor Man’s Wealth and a solemn evening liturgy lit by thousands of small candles meant to symbolize the light of Christ.

Leventhal estimated Sunday afternoon that 20,000 Christians would fill SaskPlace over the course of the day.

He said SONday may become an annual event.

Posted: Jan. 3, 2000 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: events, millenium, Saskatoon
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Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : events, millenium, Saskatoon

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