Denver Churches Unite for Prayer, Worship Outside DNC

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Denver Churches Unite for Prayer, Worship Outside DNC
Rather than protesting hot-button issues, an interdenominational church
coalition opted to serve Democratic delegates.
Denver Churches Unite for Prayer, Worship Outside DNC
[08.28.08] During this year’s Democratic National Convention (DNC), the most coveted
protest location is not being used by anti-war activists but by more than 60
Denver-area churches that are praying, serving and worshiping together outside
the Pepsi Center.
Leaders of One Church Metro Denver say they can enact more change through
prayer than protest. “We really want God’s presence to be known in this city,”
said George Morrison, pastor of Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colo. “It’s more
than a physical thing that is taking place. There is spiritual warfare that goes
on over the city.
“[We want to] make people aware that prayer changes things. Change just
doesn’t happen, so we believe in prayer.”
Since Sunday, more than 300 volunteers from an array of denominational
backgrounds have been hosting 24/7 intercession in an office building across
from the DNC, participating in prayer walks throughout the area and holding
corporate prayer and worship in Creek Front Park, the only public entrance to
the convention center.
The group insists that their goal is not to support a specific issue or
party but to show the love of Christ through service. “We’re not endorsing,”
said Steve Chavis, a spokesman for the group of loosely affiliated Denver
churches. “We’re not rejecting. We’re saying, ‘How can we bless the delegates,
the activist and the residents that live downtown?’”
The idea for the outreach was sparked when Reece Bowling, senior pastor of
Orchid Road Christian Center in Greenwood Village, Colo., noticed that churches seemed to be
missing from discussions about the upcoming convention. He said he felt
“inspired” to enter his name in a lottery being held to determine who would
secure protest locations.
“I wasn’t seeing anything about what we were doing, from a faith community
standpoint, to reach out to the delegates that were coming in for the
convention,” Bowling said. “We felt we had a message of hope, and we believe God
wants good for America. The love of Jesus will break down barriers. The nation
is very divided now, and we feel the church needs to take a leadership
“We could not have gotten a better park,” he said of their location. “We
literally can stand in our park and see the Pepsi Center from where we are
High security measures have been enacted at the DNC, with police officers
from as far away as Los Angeles on duty beside FBI and Secret Service agents.
The surrounding perimeter of the Pepsi Center has been enclosed, and Creek Front
Park is the closest drop-off point for bikes, trains and cars though it is at
least a half-mile from the center.
“You can’t drive closer. You can’t ride a bike closer,” said Steve Van
Diest, chairman of One Church Metro Denver. “About a third of the whole Pepsi
Center is walking by us.”
The group says their efforts are based on Micah 6:8, which says, “He has
shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do
justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Van Diest said they hope to show delegates and protestors alike a different
side of Christianity, one that highlights service and love. From 9 a.m. until
after the DNC events end, volunteers have been distributing pocket maps,
sunscreen and free water, and picking up trash in the area.
“Thousands of people are walking by, and we’re just handing out water
bottles, and people are just like, ‘Are you serious?’” Van Diest said.
“Everybody in town is trying to make a buck. You have people with their suburban
bike, with their baby carriers full of water bottles, saying $1 or $2. It’s kind
of a stark contrast.”
Worship services are held every two hours, with 45 different church worship
bands leading the ministry times. Van Diest said even the police have
acknowledged the impact.
Van Diest said one officer told him: “'Thank you so much. Your music every
day has gotten me through my 12-hour shift. Your worship band, your music and
lyrics just carried me through.'”
During the worship services, participants pray over a PA system for the
delegates, the city of Denver and the upcoming election.
“We’re praying for wisdom, and we’re praying that [government leaders]
would make wise choices,” Bowling said. “If God can lead Nebuchadnezzar, He
certainly can lead the Democratic Party or anyone else. So we’re praying the
Lord would lead them, that the Lord’s will be done regarding the elections, and
that we have godly, good government regardless of what label they wear.”
One Metro Church leaders believe their outreach this week was the best way
they could share the message of Christ during the convention.
“We feel that there is a presence for the church in community leadership
that entails not necessarily advocacy but servant evangelism and showing that
side of Christ,” Bowling said. “We’re not against advocacy—we’re certainly not
against promoting issues that we feel are consistent with Christian message. But
the Christian message is not about issues, it’s about loving people the way
Christ teaches us to love people.”
The convention ended Thursday night at Denver’s Invesco Field, where Sen. Barack
Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president. —Felicia
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