Thursday, September 27, 2001

Graham plans visit to Cincinnati


June event to be at Paul Brown Stadium

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Billy Graham Mission announced Wednesday that the legendary evangelist has set June 27-30 at Paul Brown Stadium for his first local crusade in a quarter-century.

        More than 400 people attended the announcement at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center. Speakers included the Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken, Graham program director the Rev. Cliff Barrows, and mission chair Anthony Munoz.

        There were no empty seats, as convention staff scrambled to line additional chairs along the walls of the second-floor convention room.

        “I am so much older than when I was there 25 years ago, but my burden to proclaim the Gospel is stronger than ever,” the Rev. Dr. Graham, who turns 83 in November, wrote in a statement that was read to the crowd. It concluded, “Looking forward, the Lord willing, to being with you in Cincinnati next year.”

        The Graham Mission has set up a local office at Swifton Commons mall in Bond Hill.

        Drawing applause, Pastor Larry J. Davis of the First Baptist Church in Cold Spring told the gathering that since the Rev. Dr. Graham recently said he was coming to Cincinnati, the Bengals haven't lost.

        “Let me tell you without apology,” the Rev. Mr. Davis said to growing applause, “I am pumped.

        Both speakers and attendees said the need for such an event is heightened by the terrorist attacks that struck New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, and have united the country ever since.

        “Because the city and the world are in such turmoil, we need prayer,” attendee Jeri Brown of Hyde Park said. “It was a shock to everyone; it was devastating. But it has brought us together. God is in this thing.”

        The crusade's objective, organizers said, is to mobilize the Christian community to assemble as many people as possible to hear the Gospel message that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life.” The crusade cornerstones are prayer, leadership, training, outreach and discipleship.

        “Wouldn't it be great,” the Rev. Mr. Barrows said, “to have 65,000 people out there saying, "God is'?”

        Mr. Luken called the event a momentous occasion.

        “What better way to unite this city,” he said, “than through the healing, guiding spirit of the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham?”

        Since his October 1977 crusade at Riverfront Stadium, the Rev. Dr. Graham has drawn tens of thousands to similar events in Columbus in 1993 and Cleveland in 1994. The Cleveland event was the first to include a youth night with teen-oriented musical guests.

        The Greater Louisville crusade in June at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium drew 191,500 to the four-day event.

        For updated information, refer to the Web site www.CincyMission.org.

       



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