Graham Remains an Innovator

Indoor-outdoor event the most technologically complex.

Billy Graham showed few signs of fatigue in October's five-day Sacramento crusade, his first since collapsing at a Toronto press conference in June and hurting himself in a Paris bathroom in July. In Canada, Graham lost five pints of blood from his colon, and in France, he cracked his back in three places.

"I'm a little bit older than when I was here before, but I feel just as good," Graham said as he took the podium on opening night. On doctors' orders, he spent most of the previous three months resting. He had also held crusades in the California capital in 1958 and 1983.

Graham blended anecdotes and fervent preaching, spending even more time than usual stressing the need for salvation in his only 1995 U.S. crusade. A total of 11,483 people registered commitments out of the 177,600 who attended. The 6.5 percentage was double the average for a Graham crusade.

Along with often mentioning the Second Coming, Graham, who turned 77 last month, noted his own mortality. "I don't know how many years I have left to live," Graham said on the final night.

SMALL AUDITORIUM: Attendees packed the 17,000-seat Arco Arena, home of the Sacramento Kings basketball team, each night of the crusade. Another 15,000 chairs were set up outside, where three outdoor stages with 16-by-22-foot Sony Jumbotron video screens had been erected. "We were afraid people would leave if they found it was full inside," said Roger Flessing, television director for the crusade.

This became the first indoor-outdoor interactive crusade in Graham's half-century of preaching. Musical and drama groups rotated different acts on each stage, with images—from a total of 15 cameras—flashed from inside to outdoors and vice versa. Sometimes groups on each stage performed ...

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