They were expecting perhaps a dozen people -- and five times as many showed up. Don Rayno has seen prayer meetings before, but this one has him really excited.
"It was wonderful," he told me. "Actually, we ran out of space. We packed as many people as we could. I've done this a long time, John, and it's been a while since I've been at a prayer gathering like that."
This particular prayer gathering took place last Monday (November 14th), not at a church, but in a conference room on the 16th floor of the CapTrust building in north Raleigh. It was the first in what's scheduled to be a monthly gathering for people to pray for the Church, the city, and the nation. The hour-long prayer services are being organized by Raleigh-Area Concerts of Prayer, a parachurch organization with the goal of giving spiritual support to local pastors, congregations, and ministries.
"We just prayed the whole time," says Rayno, the long-time director of the Concerts of Prayer. "We were really praying prayers of repentance for the Church, which is not being what it ought to be right now. That was really heavy on our hearts. There’s obviously a lot going on in the marketplace that we want to pray for, too, and a lot of these people (who came) were from the marketplace. It was just a wonderful spirit of unity among the group."
Plans call for the interdenominational prayer gatherings to take place each second Monday at noon. The sessions are open to ministers and lay persons alike. The next gathering will take place December 12th at a location yet to be determined. If you'd like to get on the email list for the Concerts of Prayer, Don Rayno says you can email him at DRayno55@aol.com.
"It was a very good start," he says. "We just feel like we’ve got a tiger by the tail here. All we did was say, 'Here’s where we’re gonna be, and here's when,' and the people came. "
I admit I don't get to Clinton very much. But when the call came in asking if I could make a special appearance there this month, I couldn't say no. It's not often you get to honor a man celebrating his 54th year preaching in the same pulpit.
That man is the Rev. Dr. Herman Cogdell, who is 85 years old. Pastor Cogdell, a Fayetteville native, came to Clinton's Lisbon Street Missionary Baptist Church on the second Sunday in November, 1957 -- and never left. Just think about that for a moment.
"I didn't have any intention to go over there when I went, really," he once told me. "I was satisfied with the churches where I was at the time. I wound up there and I haven't been able to get away since!"
Well, now the time to get away has come. Dr. Cogdell is retiring. This November 27th will mark his final Sunday in the pulpit. Back on November 13th, Lisbon Street held a special service to honor Dr. Cogdell's pastorate and years of ministry. Hundreds came out, including many pastors who counted Dr. Cogdell as a friend, a mentor, or both.
I was asked to come and present Dr. Cogdell with the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the highest civilian honors given out in the state of North Carolina. He was delighted to receive it. And so, congratulations and farewell, Dr. Cogell. Job well done.
One of the biggest changes in Roman Catholic worship in generations is about to officially roll out this Sunday in English-speaking parishes: a new translation of the Roman Missal, the ritual text and prayer instructions for celebrating Mass. Orientation sessions have been going on for months across the country, but for millions of the faithful, the changes in long-familiar words and phrases will take some getting used to. The Vatican-directed changes are designed to bring the Missal closer to its Latin roots. Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Raleigh Diocese has issued a letter thanking the local Church leadership and parishioners for their diligence in preparing for the big change.
Catholic Parish Outreach is celebrating a $10,000 grant from IBM -- and one that couldn't have come at a better time. Known as the IBM Community Impact Grant, the funds will be used to improve the Outreach's presence on the internet, and make its internal office operations more efficient. CPO, which provides needy families in our area with food and children's clothing, is seeing huge numbers of people right now. In September, they served a record 9,461 people. CPO operates the largest food pantry in Wake County and is a program of Catholic Charities.
American Idol Scotty McCreery has never been shy about sharing his faith or his love for his hometown church, First Baptist Church of Garner. Scotty is prominently featured in the church's new video promoting Operation Christmas Child, its outreach to impoverished children overseas. Check it out here.