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7,000 worshipers turn out for NFL-sanctioned concert

SAN DIEGO (BP)–Billed as a family friendly event, more than 7,000 people turned out for “Hopeville,” the 2003 Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. The Jan. 24 event transformed San Diego’s Sports Arena into an energetic, shouting, singing and dancing church featuring performances by Grammy-winning artists Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin.

And to the pleasant surprise of concert-goers, the alcohol-free concert was officially sanctioned by the National Football League.

“This year’s Super Bowl Gospel Celebration offered the audience a unique blend of entertainment,” event spokesperson Melanie Few said. “Our event is designed to allow the community to experience the star-studded Super Bowl weekend with a star-studded family oriented event.”

The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration evolved from Christian NFL players wanting an inspirational-type event during Super Bowl weekend.

“Too many times in the past we didn’t have a really positive event to attend,” said NFL star Cris Carter. “This gives us a chance to fellowship, worship together and celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.”

“Worship is what it’s all about,” said Ahmed Plummer, a born-again Christian and a cornerback with the San Francisco 49’ers. “What better place to have a gospel concert than the Super Bowl? In my book the true stars of the Super Bowl are people like Kirk Franklin and Yolanda Adams. These are people who are witnessing every day.”

Franklin, known for his highly spirited performances, gets his energy from the Lord, Plummer said. “He’s all over the place.”

The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, in association with the NFL Concert Series, was responsible for bringing Hopeville to San Diego.

Created by Kirk Franklin, Hopeville is more than a concert; it’s a destination. With Broadway staging, short skits and interaction among the artists, Hopeville is a place where people can feel safe and find hope through soul-stirring music, words of encouragement and the spirit of unity.

The show also presents the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Worshipers also enjoyed the night of celebration. “This is our first time coming to a Super Bowl event that focuses on the Lord and I’m sure glad I’m here,” said Loretta Allen of San Diego. “This shows that the body of Christ is alive and well in San Diego.”

Jacqueline Jackson, also of San Diego, said the worship service shows that Christians can have a good time. “I think it’s wonderful that we can have a good time and not have to go out and drink and get crazy,” Jackson said.

Event attendees also had a chance to win two tickets to Super Bowl XXXVII, courtesy of General Mills Recipes from the Soul, the event sponsor. A pre-show concert outside the arena featured a number of San Diego’s gospel and contemporary Christian choirs and groups. More than 500 people attended that event, hosted by former San Diego Charger Terrell Fletcher.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: CONCERT-GOERS, FEATURED SINGER and FRIENDS IN WORSHIP.

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  • Todd Starnes