Prayer vigil held for missing priest

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During a prayer vigil members of a missing Durham priest's church acknowledged police don't have any new leads, but proclaimed their belief the 71-year-old is in good hands.

During a prayer vigil Friday evening, members of a missing Durham priest's church acknowledged police don't have any new leads, but proclaimed their belief that the 71-year-old is in good hands.

"There haven't been any breakthroughs in the news to report except that our God is good, and he is here tonight and he is with Kent right now," Lead Rev. Thomas Kortus told a sanctuary full of congregants about Kent Hinkson.

Hinkson has served as a priest at All Saints Church for about two years. Their church building wasn't available, so approximately 70 people gathered at the Vintage Church building instead for the service to pray, sing hymns and offer up support for Hinkson's family in his absence.

Several people cried during the service, and at one point members spontaneously and sporadically lifted up their own prayers. It was the second time such a vigil had been held for Hinkson in the last five days.

"It's amazing how many people know and love Kent and have been touched by him and Jeline," said Maurice Perry, Hinkson's son-in-law, who lives in Durham.

Monday, Hinkson's wife, Jeline, called 911 after he failed to return home from running errands. That same evening police picked up his cellphone signal, and Wednesday a tip led detectives to his car, which they discovered about five miles from his Woodcroft neighborhood.

In a statement, Durham Police Spokesperson Kammie Michael said investigators are working the case, following all leads and appreciate the help they've received from the community.

So far, neighbors have organized two search parties. They're planning a third beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. Groups of volunteers will meet at the Wells Fargo Bank at Woodcroft Parkway and Hope Valley Road.

"We want to find him. If there's any chance we want to do whatever we can," said Bob Bethel, Hinkson's son-in-law, who traveled from Georgia to be with family.

Each search has turned up empty, but Bethel says the family's faith in God is helping.

"Doesn't make it easy, but it's the faith that will get us through no matter in what the outcome is," said Bethel.

Kent Hinkson is white, has blue eyes, gray hair and a gray mustache and goatee and is about 5 feet 8 inches tall. Police said he wears prescription glasses and may also be wearing a black leather hat.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Durham police at (919) 560-4440, extension 29335.

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