Catholic Church on board for Heaven’s Rehearsal

  • August 28, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - The Rogers Centre (still SkyDome to many in Toronto) is not heaven, but on Nov. 1 thousands will gather there to rehearse for the heaven that lives in the hopes and dreams of Christians.

Though it’s a project of the Evangelical television company Crossroads Ministries, producers of 100 Huntley Street, Heaven’s Rehearsal promises to be an inclusive, ecumenical gathering of Christians — Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant and Catholic — representing every nation on Earth. Last year the first ever Heaven’s Rehearsal was at the Air Canada Centre with 16,000 attending, representing 127 nations. With 48,000 tickets on sale at $15 each, organizers of this year’s event hope for representation from more than 200 nations.

There will be 1,600 people putting on the 2008 Heaven’s Rehearsal — musicians, dancers, lighting and sound technicians, and Bible readers — but not one of them will be permitted to preach from the stage. Hours of inspirational music and dance will be punctuated by straightforward readings from the Bible.

“The word of God is powerful and alive, sharper than a two-edged sword,” explains Reynold Mainse, son of 100 Huntley Street founder David Mainse. “We know the word of God can stand on its own.”

Preaching might invite dissension and break up the audience for Heaven’s Rehearsal into denominational blocks, said Mainse. To ensure that every Christian feels welcome Scripture passages will be presented without comment, he said.

Mainse and his wife Kathy came up with the idea for Heaven’s Rehearsal in 2006.

This fall Catholic parishes will be offering tickets, which can also be purchased directly at Deacon Carlos Nogueira was part of last year’s Heaven’s Rehearsal. He said the event has plenty to offer Catholics.

“It’s just praise and worship and reading of Scriptures. That’s it. There’s no denominational entity there,” he said. “Whether we’re Catholics or Protestants, as long as our heart is in the right place God has His purpose in using all of that. It is His kingdom, not ours.”

And just because there’s no preaching doesn’t mean the event is theologically empty, said Nogueira.

“It made me appreciate the unity of the body of Christ,” he said.

Mainse invokes a traditional image of the church as the central idea of Heaven’s Rehearsal.

“Heaven’s Rehearsal is about preparing the bride of Christ, and we know that God is looking for a unified bride,” Mainse said. “Not a dismembered bride. I’m sure what breaks the heart of God more than anything is disunity among believers.”

If the event sells out it should do slightly better than break even, said Heaven’s Rehearsal promotions director Terry Bridal.

“We have been so conscious of the need to keep the price somewhere which would not make it prohibitive for lower income people to come that in actual fact the revenue from ticket sales will not cover the full cost of the event,” Bridal said. “There have been some generous Christian business people who have made donations which will help us to meet the budget.”

Any money left over will go to stage the event next year.

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