Divine Rhythm leaves home,
stretches legs in Pigeon Forge
By Annette Bender
In 2001, Divine Rhythm was birthed as a spiritual experience for young adults who had graduated from Resurrection. For four years, Holston's winter retreat for the 18-plus set grew and prospered in the shadow of Gatlinburg Convention Center, where the mother of all spiritual events was held.
This year, Divine Rhythm left its birthplace - moved away from Momma and her thousands of rowdy teens - to Pigeon Forge and the Country Tonite Theatre. Stretching its legs in the spacious auditorium, Divine Rhythm broke an attendance record and hosted 15 guests from a drug rehabilitation center.
In all, 629 individuals representing 56 church groups attended the Jan. 21-23 event - 11 more than in 2004. The total attendance did not include the design team, volunteers, band members or the 35 children who enrolled in Divine Rhythm child care, organizers said.
Fifteen men from the Greeneville, Tenn.-based U-Turn for Christ Drug and Rehabilitation Center were among the participants. They were sponsored with more than $800 collected in offerings at last year's winter retreat.
This year's speaker, the Rev. Rob Fuquay of Long's Chapel United Methodist Church in North Carolina, joined with worship leader Wayne Kerr to lead participants through an emotional, spirited weekend.
Using the example of Israel's 400-year wait to get to the Promised Land, Fuquay told participants, "Have you noticed? More of life is spent waiting for God's promises than receiving God's promises. So, what do you do while you wait?
"Well, maybe God knows some stuff that you don't know," Fuquay continued. "Sometimes, God whispers, 'You know, if you will just be quiet and let me do the driving, maybe things will turn out better.'"
Admittedly fatigued from having to return to Lake Junaluska for a Saturday funeral, Fuquay complimented Kerr's energetic praise music during Saturday night's presentation.
"He's just like a spiritual Starbucks," Fuquay said to laughter.
Kerr, returning to Divine Rhythm for his fourth year, later told the crowd, "For me to say it's a blessing to come back is the lamest understatement of the year."
Kerr played many favorites from his CDs, including "My Prayer for You" and "First Grade," but the songs that seemed to most move the crowd were "Holy Ghost Party" (aisle dancing) and "So Good" (mantra).
Participants praised both the event as well as its spiritual leaders.
"This is a boost for me. It's a lot different from regular church," said Sarah Woods, age 19, member at Wharf Hill UMC, Abingdon District. "[Fuquay] makes me think of things in my life that I need to change and motivates me to do that."
"This is just something that people our age can relate to better," said Trey Owens, 19, also of Wharf Hill.
As part of a mission effort, participants donated 132 jars of peanut butter, later distributed to food pantries at Midway Memorial UMC and First Jonesville UMC, both of the Big Stone Gap District. Eighty-four health kits, valued at $1,000, were collected and shipped to United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) for tsunami victims. Forty-one individuals participated in a blood drive.
A special offering resulted in $245 for tsunami victims through UMCOR. Another offering garnered $1,345 for scholarships at next year's Divine Rhythm.
Churches give big to tsunami victims
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