EVERETT — Snohomish County residents packed the ballroom Friday morning at Angel of the Winds Arena for Christian prayer and worship, welcoming Easter weekend over breakfast.
The 500 tickets sold out in February, after less than a week on sale.
As with many “firsts since COVID,” the room had the festive feeling of a reunion, with folks greeting old friends and making new ones. It was a stark contrast to the gray, misty weather outside.
The event’s co-chair Steve Chittenden said he hadn’t slept well, even though he “felt confident things would come together.” After the breakfast, he said, “It couldn’t have been better.”
After welcome and a prayer, the crowd joined in enthusiastically to sing “How Great is Our God.” Then, the food: bacon, eggs, potatoes and fruit.
Rainey, chaplain for the University of Washington football team and co-chaplain for the Seahawks, spoke about the Biblical stories of Easter weekend, including the Jewish Passover and the death and resurrection of Jesus. He emphasized a message of love and unity — with some football stories mixed in, too, of course.
“Make love your motivation in everything you do,” Rainey said, sharing how the UW team came together this season around a “culture of love.”
God also wants Christians to reach out into the community, he said.
“We do this most effectively when we are unified,” Rainey said, noting that unity doesn’t mean uniformity.
The message of loving neighbors and coming together resonated with Todd Marshall, of Everett. It was his first prayer breakfast, even though he has lived in the community for about 30 years.
“I thought it was inspirational,” Marshall said, calling Rainey “awesome.” He felt challenged to live out his faith in the community and in the workplace, to serve and love everyone, whether they are homeless or a Seattle Seahawk.
Linda Bontrager, of Lake Stevens, attended with others from the Deaf Assembly that is part of the Bethany Christian Assembly in Everett. She felt glad to be included, as her daughter interpreted for her, saying “often we’re the last to know anything. It was such a blessing to be here.”
Rainey “was a wonderful speaker,” Bontrager said.
For folks who wanted to connect immediately to local ministries, tables lined the outside of the ballroom, ranging from Hand in Hand to the Everett Gospel Mission. People could also go to one of four rooms to pray for their specific region of the county.
Chittenden said he’s looking forward to next year.
“COVID has separated us,” he said. “We need to be in unity. The church is a big way to do that.”
Joy Borkholder is the health and wellness reporter for The Daily Herald. Her work is supported by the Health Reporting Initiative, which is sponsored in part by Premera Blue Cross. The Daily Herald maintains editorial control over content produced through this initiative.