It took 45 sermons and 600 Powerpoint slides to total fifty-three hours and 18 minutes — that’s how long Zach Zehnder spoke to surpass the Guinness World Record for Longest Speech Marathon.
Zehnder, the 31-year-old pastor at the Cross Church in Mount Dora, spoke at his church last Friday through Sunday, breaking the previously held record of 48 hours and 31 minutes.
“I remember my wife — she leads the kids ministry — was talking to the kids about Guinness World Records for a lesson, and it just kind of stuck in my mind,” he said.
A record for the world’s longest sermon does not exist, but Guinness gave Zehnder information about the speech marathon record.
Aside from breaking the record, he used the days-long speech as an opportunity to raise money for Powerhouse Recovery Community (PRC), a nonprofit that operates as an live-in addiction treatment facility and community for males in the area.
Zehnder raised $102,000.
He worked for months to find sponsors for the event and was so successful that a large portion of the money was raised months ago and is already being put to use in the new new nonprofit.
Powerhouse Recovery Community, a product of the Hand in Hand organization, offers its facilities for free to residents. David Douglas, executive director of Hand in Hand, said the program simply wouldn’t be possible without the money raised from the speech.
“We’re trying to reach a segment of society that can’t afford a rehab center,” Douglas said. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing without this fundraiser.”
Douglas said he worked with Zehnder from the very beginning, but that he had no idea what they were getting into.
“We received probably a 60-page booklet of rules from Guinness,” Douglas said.
However, Douglas said he knew Zehnder would meet his goals and break the record, despite the extensive rules and requirements.
“When he sets his mind to something, there’s no turning back,” Douglas said.
Jamie Panas Antonious, senior public relations manager for Guinness World Records North America, said Guinness has received Zehnder’s application, and the review process could take up to 8 weeks.
As for Zehnder, he said he was exhausted after the speech.
“I slept for 14 hours on Sunday, but I’m feeling pretty good now,” he said. “I don’t know that I’d do it again for a long time, but I’m feeling pretty great.”