Family men eye Canes' quest

Promise Keepers attendees see positive similarities

Staff WriterJune 18, 2006 

Chris Brown and Johnny Scott are just a couple of Caniacs hoping to avoid h-e-double-hockey- sticks.

The two men planned to spend more than 12 hours at the RBC Center on Saturday feeding both their passions.

"We follow the Lord, and we follow the Canes," said Brown, 30, of Aberdeen.

By day, they worshipped and sang with Promise Keepers, the evangelical Christian ministry that tries to inspire men to be, as one attendee put it, "better husbands, better fathers, better sons of God."

By night, Brown and Scott planned to watch the broadcast of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the RBC Center scoreboard, with a little tailgating thrown in between for good measure.

They would, God willing, be raising their hands in victory in the same building where they had raised them in prayer just hours earlier.

That plan, though, took a hit, in a way that would make the 7,000 men at Promise Keepers say, "Hallelujah."

Promise Keepers talks a lot about making your family a priority.

Brown and Scott put that virtue into action Saturday afternoon when they returned to their homes to be with their wives, who at the last minute were unable to make the trip to Raleigh.

"My wife is a huge hockey fan," Brown said from his cell phone on the way home. "Me and Johnny could stay up here all day long. But we want to experience this with our wives."

Earlier in the day, during a lunch break in Brown's Chevy Tahoe adorned with a gleaming Canes plate in front and a state-issued Canes license tag in back, Brown said Promise Keepers and hockey fans had a lot in common.

They both cheer, clap and sing -- Promise Keepers infuses concerts and audience participation with energy.

"They're both really in-depth with what they believe," Brown said. "We all have faith. And all the Canes fans probably have the same kind of faith."

Worship like a man

There was plenty of testosterone-spiked religion going on in the RBC. At the end of the morning service, men streamed toward the stage near what would be center ice, kneeling and asking God to free them from worldly concerns.

On a Father's Day weekend, many dads brought their sons and talked about setting good examples. Bob Parker, 56, of Brooksville, Fla., looked down at his 10-year-old son, Eric, with misty eyes as the youngster told what he had learned at Promise Keepers.

"Everybody has something in them that's great," Eric said. "You just have to use it for God."

Paul Newton, 46, of Concord brought his 13-year-old son, Daniel, and a 14-year-old boy he's mentoring named Rashard. Rashard's father does not live with him, Newton said.

"This is also about the next generation of fathers," Newton said. "They need to make some decisions now about how they're going to treat the wife they don't have yet, the children they don't have yet."

Philip Watts, 59, of Petersburg Va., has seven grown children but said he still needs encouragement and advice about how to be a good father.

"We're constantly in a spiritual battle," Watts said. "This gives us the desire to go back into the fight."

Scott said Promise Keepers would help him put worldly things, even seemingly major events like the Stanley Cup Finals, into perspective.

So if the Canes lose, it's not the end of the world, right?

"It's definitely not the end of the world," Brown said as he reclined in the driver seat, two tins of Copenhagen snuff in the console next to him. "There's two more games. Hopefully, just one."

Staff writer Matt Dees can be reached at 932-8760 or matt.dees@newsobserver.com.

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