LEETONIA - Last year's Men's Rally in the Valley drew about 4,000 people and this year officials are hoping to attract 6,000 to the fourth annual event on May 4 at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown.
"I'd say anywhere for 4,000 to 6,000, we keep touching people and praying for as many men as possible to attend," organizer Wayne "Bing" Newton said, adding there are 2,500 Men's Rally lawn signs in place in the tri-county and surrounding areas including West Virginia.
An lineup of inspirational speakers and religious-themed entertainment is planned for the all-day event.
Newton said the Men's Rally was organized in 2010 by Men of Faith, an informal group of Christian men based in Columbiana County, and the rally encourages each in their faith.
Men of Faith was established in 2001 and is led by Newton, a retired Salem High School teacher and coach.
"God is using a different approach this year, in other words we're going one-on-one ... He's challenging us to bring men with us ... not so much (through) billboards ... (which are) not as important as you and I ... it's a more personal approach," Newton explained.
Men's Rally attendees have traveled from Cleveland, Norwalk and surrounding areas and Newton expects a busload from the Norwalk area for the teen challenge.
"When God gets into it ... it just explodes," he said.
The rally theme is "Iron Sharpens Iron" from Proverbs 27:17 and Newton said the thinking on that is "one man helps to sharpen another man ... it's the heart of Christianity ... so iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another."
Wristbands to enter the event cost $15 and include lunch and will be available right up to the day of the rally.
"I think God is really moving through our valley more ... we're encouraging churches that if they purchase 25 wrist bands they get 25 free to distribute to people outside."
The event will be called to order by Mark Kholos-Shofar at 8:45 a.m. and Nick the Greek Pirvolas will give the opening prayer and remarks at 8:50 a.m. followed by praise and worship by the Faith Chapel Praise Team at 9 a.m. before Joe White speaks about "Iron Sharpens Iron" at 9:30 a.m.
Newton said that of all the speakers, White is "probably most impressive speaker" he's ever heard.
At 10:30 a.m. Ebenezer Abblagyei, pastor of New Hope Free Methodist Church in Warren and originally from Ghanna, will speak on the "Preparation of Iron" followed by the Boardman Christian Academy singing the "Praise Theme Song" at 11:15 a.m.
Juan Rivera, pastor at New Life in Poland, will talk about how God uses men of iron tell the audience "How God Sharpened Me" at 11:25 a.m. and after a one-hour lunch break the Greenford Christian Church choir will present a 10-minute praise and worship session.
The Greenford Christian Church choir will be used intermittently between each break, Newton said.
At 1:40 p.m. Neal Jeffrey, associate pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas and former quarterback for San Diego Chargers, will talk on the re-sharpening of iron.
There will be praise and worship at 2:25 p.m. before Bob Pavlich, a director of the Teen Challenge in Youngstown, speaks on "how God uses men of iron" at 2:30 p.m.
Newton, who wears five wristbands and gives one to each person he meets, said it's "to encourage them to go with me."
As far as the 25 free wristbands go, Newton said, "We never did this before ... we are going to contact every church across the valley - we sent out over 1,500 postcards two weeks ago ... pastors wanting to get involved and even being on the team ... I think the big thing will be when we follow them up through coordinators in each of the cities."
The tri-county area including Stark County in Ohio and Shenango and Hermitage in Pennsylvania are the basic areas in which the Men of Faith draw core members and hold team meetings.
Ken Johnson, chaplain of Indianapolis Colts, will conclude the series of speakers at 3:35 p.m. when he talks about being on the look out for iron; outside the walls of the churches as they work with God's people ... "Now, You Go Sharpen Men."
Entertainment so far has been tentatively scheduled by coordinator Mark Plegge who has arranged for Salem's Faith Chapel praise and worship group, the Boardman Christian praise and worship group and the Teen Challenge Choir from Youngstown to perform.
Another choir, "Calvary" from Youngstown, is a possible performer.
While fashioned after the "Promise Keeper" rallies that attracted upwards of 70,000 attendees years ago, Newton said the Men's Rally venue enables "us to see if what we do at smaller events will have more of an impact on the men."
Started two years ago, there will be a group carrying a 300- to 400-pound cross from Trumbull County to the Covelli Centre.
"They carry it all night long," Newton said.
In the past, groups carried it 18 miles from Hermitage.
This year's route has not been set, Newton said, but it will begin north, in Trumbull county.
The $15 general admission wristbands are available locally at Lion & Lamb in Salem, Shoppers Choice Marathon in Washingtonville and the Second Blessing, Salem on South Broadway Avenue. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/mensrally/info or www.mensrally.org.
On May 3, "We will come together at Christian Assembly at 5050 South Avenue in Boardman when we bring all the speakers," Newton said, adding that two planes will fly from Salem Airpark in Friday (May 3) afternoon and will fly over the city and Covellie Centre.
"They are prayer flights, with three people aboard each plane," Newton said.
"One will go up for an hour and land and then the other will go up."
Note: The Abundant Life Fellowship at 46469 state Route 46 in New Waterford will host a regional Rally in the Valley meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 29.
The team meeting is open to all area men interested in praying, worshiping, volunteering or just participating in the May 4 rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown.
"Also that night we pray over every committee," Newton said.
For questions or directions call 330-457-7317.
Larry Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org