Thousands gather in Chambersburg for interdenominational event

July 21, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Several thousand people filled the stadium at Chambersburg Area Senior High School on Sunday evening for the second annual 720 Gathering, an event that asks people from many denominations to offer prayerful requests to God.

Among them were requests for families, government, education, health-care providers and healing.

Mark Durniak, a pastor at World Harvest Outreach, expected the prayer for business and economy to touch a lot of people.

"The economy, where it is today, we're praying that businesses will have favor. With prayers like that, people want to come back" to the event, he said.


World Harvest Outreach was one of 30 churches involved in planning the four-hour event. Organizers anticipated that 200 churches would be represented, including those that benefited from the Spanish-language translations offered.

Federico and Edna Laureano said they are pastors of a Hispanic congregation at the Church of God in Chambersburg.

"It's a great opportunity to be here together in unity in Christ, and to pray for our community and churches, then the areas around us and the world," Edna Laureano said.

Emily Crider, who attends Shippensburg (Pa.) Independent Baptist Church, said she attended the 720 Gathering looking for unity.

Her brother, Andrew Crider, was looking "just to gather all I can from the preachers and praying."

The Criders learned about the event from friend April McCafferty, who attends Mount Rock Brethren in Christ Church outside Shippensburg, Pa. She attended last year and especially enjoyed the ending prayer, in which pastors prayed for each other and their churches.

"I really felt like the Lord showed up in a powerful way," McCafferty said.

Like the Criders, Jessie and Teresa Cooley, of Mount Pleasant United Brethren Church in Scotland, Pa., were at the 720 Gathering for the first time.

"A lot of my friends come to this," Jessie Cooley said. "They just told me it was prayer for the community to put faith back in the community."

Friends also told Ross and Jo Peterson, from the Upper Strasburg (Pa.) Church of God, that the fellowship was rewarding.

"We were on a missions trip last year when this happened," Jo Peterson said.

Durniak said that organizing pastors scaled back the 720 Gathering from its original overnight format. They started meeting in January to pull together the event and promoted it from McConnellsburg to Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.

"Definitely I think there's a great effect, and the (Cumberland) Valley feels a difference," Durniak said.

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