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Church Deacon Finds the Biggest Prime Number Yet

You just never know what will happen when you serve at the church. Consider Joe Pace, a 51-year-old FedEx finance manager who has served for 20 years as a deacon at his church, Germantown Church of Christ in a Memphis suburb. Pace made the amazing discovery while serving as a deacon and system administrator for the church. He had installed software called the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search and used his computers in the project. One day the software was running in the background on a church computer when it hit a rare kind of prime number called a Meresenne prime.

The New York Times noted:

A prime number isn't divisible by any optimistic integer except 1 and itself. Some prime figures are called after Marin Mersenne, a French theologian and mathematician who studied them in the first 17th century … Mr. Pace's discovery is called M77232917 and had been announced on Jan. 3 … [It] is 23,249,425 digits, almost one million digits bigger than the prior record-holder.

Pace said, "There are tens of thousands of computers involved in the search. On average, they are finding less than one a year. The odds of one of my computers making a prime number discovery are astronomical."

Although Pace was thrilled by the discovery he also mentioned the two things that make him even more excited: "the twenty years I've offered as a deacon at Germantown" and "the 44 gallons of bloodstream and platelets I've donated in my own life."

Possible Preaching Angles - 1) Persistence; Dedication; Difficulty - In prayer, service, and witnessing, Christians are called to faithfully persist in the work of ministry. 2) Chance; Coincidence; Luck; Providence of God - What appears to us as accidental or luck is actually God working behind the scenes. The Bible uses the words "chance" (2 Samuel 1:6) and "random" (2 Chronicles 18:33) to call our attention to the fact that an event might appear to us to be random, but it is actually a part of God's larger plan.

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