Music, prayer draw thousands downtown The Revival Crusade '97, Catholic festival feature choirs, sermons, fellowship

September 28, 1997|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

From east to west, the Inner Harbor was filled yesterday with the strains of spiritual music and inspirational preaching as tens of thousands converged on downtown Baltimore for two major religious gatherings.

The Revival Crusade '97 rocked Camden Yards for a second night, filling the stadium with the sounds of gospel music and spiritual testimony.

Across the harbor at the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, many of the city's Roman Catholics showed their diversity at the Baltimore City Catholic Evangelization Festival, a six-hour block party featuring choirs, Polish and Irish dancers, and Latino and Korean food.

"I think of it like an ethnic festival, but it's a Catholic festival," said Kim Martel of St. William of York Parish in Ten Hills, as she listened to a theater troupe perform selections from the musical "Godspell."

"It makes me proud to be a Catholic. Our church is really alive and active."

Across the way in the Columbus Center parking lot, her husband, Rick, was supervising the prayer tent. Teams of married couples sat and prayed with anyone who came forward. Festival goers were filling out paper slips with prayer intentions that they dropped into a large wooden box. "After today, the box will rotate among the 57 churches throughout the city, a different church each Sunday," and each church will pray for the intentions inside, said Eileen Phelps, the festival coordinator. "And it is chock full."

Phelps estimated 10,000 people attended the festival.

Some people wanted twice the spirituality, attending the Catholic festival during the day, then heading to Camden Yards for the Revival Crusade '97.

"I'm going to 5:30 Mass and then I'm going to drop in over there" at the Revival, said Mary McDonald, who attends St. Martin's parish at Fulton Avenue and Fayette Street in Franklin Square. "So it's a special day for me. It's been glorious."

Tia Matthews, assistant coordinator for Revival Crusade '97, said a stream of people came up to her during the two-day event and asked for another next year.

"This is something that the people in Baltimore and Maryland love," she said. "They love being able to come into a large venue with all of their churches, all of their choirs and all of their ministers for fellowship."

State Sen. Larry Young, the West Baltimore Democrat and New Shiloh Baptist Church deacon who organized the event, told the crowd that 22,000 people came Friday night and he expected to see an equal number last night. "I know that in just a few more days this park will be filled with folks excited about the Baltimore Orioles," he said.

But the revival, he said, had a different purpose: "We're here to hit a home run for Jesus."

Demetria Ross of West Baltimore, who came to the revival with two members of her church, wore her white usher's uniform and badge from Morning Star Baptist Church. She said attending such a large, free revival let her know she was not alone.

"It's making you know that you're not the only one who has problems, and you're not the only one who's turning to Jesus," she said.

Stephanie Thompson walked from her home at Pennsylvania Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard to attend the revival. But she looked as though she was dressed for a baseball game.

"I'm going to give the Orioles a blessing, so they win the playoffs," she said. "That's why I'm wearing my Orioles cap and my Cal Ripken jersey."

Pub Date: 9/28/97

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