The last time Billy Graham held a major crusade in Louisville, Ky., he was a 37-year-old evangelist with a simple messageラ"Jesus saves."

Nearly four decades later, the message of salvation through Christ hasn't changed, but the messenger delivering the good news will be 82 years old.

Graham has accepted an invitation to hold a crusade in Louisville June 21 to 24, 2001, in Papa John's Cardinal Stadiumラ45 years after he last held a major crusade in the city. Graham's last full-scale crusade in Louisville, held in 1956, lasted four weeks. He also had a one-day crusade in 1964.

The Louisville crusade will be Graham's second speaking engagement since he was hospitalized last June for several surgical procedures to treat hydrocephalus, a condition in which too much fluid builds up in the brain.

Graham participated in a Jacksonville, Florida crusade in November after he was released from months of rehabilitation and monitoring of his Parkinson's condition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Graham's hospitalization kept him from the Amsterdam 2000 Evangelism Conference, and during the course of his recovery he was not well enough even to deliver an opening address by satellite as was previously anticipated.

After being released from the hospital Graham also declared that he would have to "drastically reduce" his schedule.

A formal announcement of the Louisville crusade will take place Jan. 16, when area pastors will come together to begin planning for the four-day crusade. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will announce in the ensuring weeks and months the speakers and recording artists who will participate in the crusade.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will serve as chairman of the Louisville crusade's executive committee.

"It is an enormous honor for the city of Louisville and for this entire area for Dr. Graham to come here," Mohler said. "Dr. Graham said he is coming to Louisville because the Lord has laid this city on his heart. We are very glad of that."

Graham's latest crusades have drawn more than 200,000 people each. The evangelist has been preaching for more than 60 years. He was ordained in 1939 and founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950.

"A Billy Graham crusade is an awesome event," Mohler said. "We are hoping for an attendance of about 200,000. ... It is a remarkable opportunity for persons to gather together for the preaching of the gospel [and] to hear Dr. Billy Graham."

Copyright © 2000 Baptist Press

Related Elsewhere

Visit the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), where you can read about Billy's plans for future ministry and the appointment of his son Franklin as CEO of the BGEA

You can read more about R.Albert Mohler Jr. at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Web site.

Recent Christianity Today stories about Graham include:

Graham Goes Home to Get Ready for Florida | Evangelist plans to continue preaching, but "drastically reduce" his schedule.
Amsterdam Amen | Amsterdam 2000 ends with a message from Billy Graham, a promise by 10,000 evangelists, and a unifying framework for worldwide evangelism. (Aug. 7, 2000)
Billy Graham a No-Show at Amsterdam 2000 | Evangelist, watching from Minnesota, bows out of satellite address, will probably forgo later remarks as well. (July 31, 2000)
Billy Graham Too Ill For Amsterdam 2000 | Evangelist will deliver address via satellite. (July 12, 2000)
Billy Graham to Miss National Prayer Breakfast | Recovery from elective sinus procedure, health concerns for wife prompt evangelist to cancel annual appearance. (Feb. 3, 2000)
Can the Graham Anointing Be Passed? | Many people await the next super-Christian to lead us. (April 5, 1999)
Graham Journeys to Cyberspace | (Dec. 7, 1998)
Billy Graham Had a Dream | (Jan. 12, 1998)