• 36°

NFL: Tebow draws large crowd for Sunday service

Associated Press
GEORGETOWN, Texas — Thousands of worshippers turned out for an outdoor Easter morning service featuring an appearance by New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow at a central Texas church.
Tebow was scheduled to speak Sunday at Celebration Church’s “Easter on the Hill” service on a rolling grassy field about 20 miles north of Austin.
The event had the feeling of a rock concert with hundreds of school buses shuttling crowds to the sprawling megachurch from nearby shopping malls. The church invited people to bring lawn chairs and blankets for the two-hour service under sunny skies.
A devout Christian, Tebow has a flock of fervent fans due as much to his public faith as the former Heisman Trophy winner’s football skills. The event drew those who wanted to see their favorite football player as well as deliver his personal message of faith on the holiday.
Some couldn’t wait for the official early opening to the grounds.
Debbie Sandoval and her husband and two sons arrived before sunrise wearing Tebow’s Jets jerseys and set up camp close the large soundstage with a row of chairs. Additional large video screens and loudspeakers were set up for those toward the back.
“I love that boy … He’s like my third son,” said Sandoval, who is not a regular member of the church but wasn’t going to miss a chance to hear Tebow speak.
A self-described “lifelong Broncos fan,” Sandoval said she became a Jets fan because of Tebow. Tebow led the Broncos to the playoffs last season, but was acquired by the Jets in a trade March 21.
“Everything about this young man’s extraordinary life is special,” Sandoval said.
Amanda O’Hara drove about 100 miles from San Antonio on Saturday and got to the church about 4:30 a.m. “to be one of the first ones here.”
“I only got about four hours sleep, I was so excited,” O’Hara said. “He doesn’t hide who he is. Parents should see him as a role model.”
The crowd included people dressed in Easter bunny costumes and dressed as Sesame Street character Elmo. About an hour before the service, Elmo dropped to a knee with a toddler boy to mimic Tebow’s on-field prayer pose, which was been dubbed “Tebowing.”
Media access to the event was tightly controlled inside the roped off field. Reporters were required to have an escort when walking through the crowd and photographers were not allowed inside during the service. Television cameras were allowed to record only a portion of Tebow’s speech and no live video streaming of the service was permitted.
Church officials initially expected up to 20,000 and said Tebow’s appearance on Easter Sunday was coincidental. Church spokeswoman Tara Wall said it was Tebow who reached out to Pastor Joe Champion and Sunday was the best date available.
Mike Benaglio, who sat on a blanket with his wife Debbie, welcomed the spectacle surrounding the Tebow phenomenon.
“I’m a fan of any pro athlete who stands up for his faith,” Benaglio said. “We’re thrilled to be part of this. It’s not about football. Whatever gets more people over to the cross, I’m in favor of.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Coronavirus

State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24

Coronavirus

One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis man dies in moped crash

Crime

Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal

Local

Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill

Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic

Crime

Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures

Crime

Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being found passed out in vehicle

Ask Us

Ask Us: What programs exist for litter cleanup?

Business

County begins accepting restaurant grant applications

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses

Nation/World

Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief

Nation/World

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Nation/World

Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment

Nation/World

Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police