A Florida Pastor recently broke the Guinness world record for the Longest Speech Marathon by preaching a sermon that lasted 53 hours and 18 minutes from Friday to Sunday.
Zach Zehnder, the 31-year-old pastor of theCross Mount Dora in Florida set out to break the previous record of 48 hours and 31 minutes in an effort to raise money for a nonprofit that offers free alcohol and drug-addiction treatment services.
"The Idea was to break the Guinness world record for the longest speech ever and I'm a pastor obviously, and so I chose to speak on the Bible and kind of cover the entirety of the story from Genesis to Revelation," said Zehnder to The Christian Post.
He combined around 45 sermons and preached them sequentially which allowed him to surpass the record. Zehnder prepared 50, but skipped a few in the middle.
"My goal of the whole sermon was to talk about God's ridiculous commitment to his people, even though we give up on him that he never gave up on us and kind of trace that theme throughout," he said. "I tried to keep that theme throughout the 50 sermons."
In order to qualify to break the record, Zehnder had to preach to 10 people for the entire duration as well as 2 independent witnesses that could sign off on its legitimacy. The witnesses also monitored his break time among other rules. Other spectators rotated.
"The people moved in and out, but we had a lot of people that stayed 20 plus hours, even a handful probably up to a dozen people that were there just about the entire time with me," continued Zehnder.
He said between 400 to 500 people showed up during the duration of the speech and as they got closer to the record towards the end more and more people began to come there to observe the feat.
The event generated money for Eustis-based Powerhouse Recovery rehabilitation program. Zehnder was thankful for the opportunity to raise the money and also for those volunteers who helped him host the event where the sermon was preached.
"The main reason why we did it was not just to preach so people could hear God's word which is a great thing in and of itself, but actually to raise money for local charity," said. "We actually raised over $100,000, we met our goal for a recovery house, for residents to come and change some men's lives. These are guys that have struggled with alcohol and addiction and we just opened a program [with] the money [raised from] this speech."
Ultimately, he hopes to influence other pastors to raise money for important causes while preaching at the same time.
"I would love it if more pastors took on this idea to raise money and preach God's word at the same time," he said. "I hope they finish a couple minutes shy of what I did, but we wanted to set the record high enough to where it would be hard for someone to break."