A poker tournament that was to benefit an overseas mission has been canceled because of concerns from a north High Point church.

Mission-minded poker fans, some of whom attend Covenant Church United Methodist, wanted to use the tournament to raise money for DREAM (Dominican Republic Evangelical And Medical) Ministries, which began at Covenant Church.The tournament was not officially affiliated with or sanctioned by Covenant Church. The congregation's senior pastor, the Rev. John Fitzgerald, learned of the fund-raiser and told event organizers that he is opposed to the tournament.

Fitzgerald later said he feared people would think the church sponsored or sanctioned the event.

"The reason our church would oppose something like this is playing poker, even if it's not for money, is an activity associated with gambling and a potentially addictive behavior that can be a destructive force in people's lives," Fitzgerald said.

Event co-organizer Brad Allen said he and the other organizers understand Fitzgerald's position, and they have agreed to cancel the tournament.

"A relationship between this fund-raiser and any church was unintentional," Allen said. "To alleviate any misinterpretation (of a relationship) we feel it's best to cancel the fund-raiser for this year and potentially reorganize for a different kind of fund-raiser next year."

Fitzgerald said he believes the organizers' hearts were in the right place.

"I don't think there was ill intent on anybody's part," Fitzgerald said.

\ Contact Justin Cord Hayes at 883-4422, Ext. 238, or jhayes@news-record.com

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