Billy Graham has done it all, it seems. Carolina tent revivals. Football-stadium prayer meetings. He preached to more than a million people in a single sitting in Seoul, South Korea, beamed his crusades electronically with his Global Mission from Puerto Rico, and now he has appeals on the Internet promoting his meetings.
But Graham, who turned 79 last month, did something different in his recent Bay Area campaign: He combined three crusades into one. Graham knitted together more than 1,400 churches from a metropolitan area that includes three of California's largest cities.
Graham's typical pattern in recent years has been to preach five consecutive nights in one city. But this time, in the course of a month, he took his ministry first to San Jose, then to San Francisco, then to Oakland—circling the Bay to evangelize in cities that have distinct and competing cultures and whose churches rarely talk to one another.
The campaign, which concluded October 26, was a logistical nightmare that required close to two years of planning. But it worked. About 250,000 people attended nine events, pastors talked about a historic bonding of Christians around the Bay, and Graham predicted a "spiritual awakening" for the region.
UNCHURCHED TERRITORY: More than the geography challenged the Graham ministry. The Bay Area is hardly a notch in the Bible Belt. Churches in San Francisco average fewer than 100 members, and only 4 percent of city dwellers attend church, compared to 38 percent nationally. Graham, who last preached in San Francisco in 1958, called San Francisco the most challenging city he has faced. With a lower than usual number of churchgoers to help in the planning, Graham turned to the Internet for creative publicity, such as ...1
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