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Florida Pastor Makes World Record Attempt At Longest Speech

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Church sermons can sometimes seem like they go on and on. And here's one in Mount Dora, Florida, that did, on purpose.

(SOUNDBITE OF SERMON)

ZACH ZEHNDER: He never gives up on us.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you, Lord.

ZEHNDER: And we thank them for that. This is the future that we have.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Pastor Zach Zehnder gave a sermon last week that went on for three days straight to raise money for an addiction treatment center.

BLOCK: And with that...

ZEHNDER: I just broke a Guinness World Record for the longest speech ever at 53 hours and 18 minutes.

BLOCK: That amount of time, now awaiting official confirmation from Guinness, would surpass a man in India who spoke for 48 hours, 31 minutes.

SIEGEL: Zehnder's plan was simple - preach the Bible, front to back. He came prepared with 200 pages of notes and 600 PowerPoint slides. His congregation at the Cross Mount Dora stepped in to help with the rest.

BLOCK: Most importantly, keeping him and those listening awake.

ZEHNDER: We had water guns in case anybody fell asleep - that I could squirt them, or they could squirt me. We had to do that occasionally.

BLOCK: His members also helped keep track of his allotted five- minute breaks...

SIEGEL: ...Which turned out to be sort of an awkward experience.

ZEHNDER: Just kind of crazy 'cause all these people are watching me, and they know my exact bathroom schedule - when I was doing, what I was doing. And they would cheer for me when I came back from the bathroom, which is, like - that's neat, I guess.

SIEGEL: And they listened to his sermon in shifts. Guinness rules say 10 people have to be present at all times.

BLOCK: Sitting, standing, walking on a treadmill, pastor Zehnder finally hit 48 hours, 42 minutes, one minute past the previous record.

(SOUNDBITE OF SERMON)

ZEHNDER: Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Three, two, one...

ZEHNDER: We did it.

(APPLAUSE)

ZEHNDER: I can't stop for more than 30 seconds. Remember that.

BLOCK: Re-energized, Zehnder kept talking for another five hours.

SIEGEL: He says, physically, he could've spoken even longer, but mentally, it was time to stop. And in that 53 hours and 18 minutes, the church raised more than $90,000. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.