NEW YORK (BP)–Billy Graham has accepted an invitation to lead a New York City crusade at Madison Square Garden in June 2005, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announced Sept. 30.
Pastors from more than 150 New York area churches gathered to extend an official invitation to the evangelist, expecting him to bring “a history, a legacy, and most important, the anointing God has placed on him to speak a simple message by God’s Spirit to the hearts of thousands,” a statement by the organization read.
“In response to 9/11, the churches in New York City expressed a collaborative effort to come together in response to a need,” said A.R. Bernard, pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn and chair of the crusade, according to the BGEA release. “My prayer is that this crusade will bring us to a stage of collective effort, where each church plays a part, but we will make a difference together as a whole.”
The 2005 crusade will be Graham’s seventh in the area and third at three different Madison Square Garden locations following meetings in 1969 and 1957. The 1957 visit was a significant event in 20th-century church history — meetings that were supposed to last for six weeks were extended to 16, and more than two million people attended.
Graham’s most recent visit to New York was a rally in Central Park in 1991, which set a record for the largest religious assembly in the city with more than 250,000 in attendance.
“Post 9/11, there is a growing spiritual hunger here,” David Epstein, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York, said. “I believe it is a great time for the Lord to bring Billy Graham back with his emphasis on the Gospel and the love and mercy of God, but also social justice and compassion.”
Graham is scheduled to hold two crusades this year — in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 7-10, and in Los Angeles Nov. 18-21. Both were moved to the fall from an initial summer schedule to give Graham time to recover from two falls resulting in surgeries performed earlier in the year.