KANSAS CITY (BP)–The Heart of America Billy Graham Crusade general committee is exploring all options -– including possible postponement – for the crusade scheduled June 17-20 in Kansas City in light of the 85-year-old evangelist’s current hospitalization.
Larry Ross, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said the Kansas City committee is committed to moving ahead with the crusade on the scheduled date or on an alternate date.
“The committee wants to pursue every option, including postponement,” Ross said.
Graham, 85, was recovering from a partial hip replacement performed Jan. 6 when he fell at his home May 14 in Montreat, N.C.
“Billy Graham has expressed his burden and passion for coming to Kansas City, and we want to reiterate our commitment to him by giving him time to get well,” said Richard Hastings, chairman of the Heart of America Billy Graham Crusade general committee.
“We very much want him to come and preach … even if he has to sit in a chair.”
A spokesman for Mission Hospitals in Asheville, N.C., reported May 20 that a fracture of the pelvis Graham that had sustained was more significant than originally suspected and had necessitated surgery.
“We are committed to moving forward with this evangelistic effort that is currently supported by nearly 750 churches representing 53 denominations,” Hastings said. “Over the next week, we will pursue every option, including alternative dates.
“This is an opportunity for churches across metro Kansas City and throughout the five states in America’s heartland for further prayer, mobilization and mission to make Billy Graham’s last great evangelistic effort in mid-America the greatest it could possibly be. All rehearsals and meetings planned will continue as scheduled.”
Mike Whitehead, legal counsel for the crusade committee, said various contracts will need to be renegotiated and revised once a new date is determined.
“The June 17 date provided a very short lead time to prepare for the crusade,” Whitehead said. “A postponement for Dr. Graham’s recuperation will provide extra time to permit more prayer and more participation by Kansas City-area churches and ministries.”
A spokesman for Mission Hospitals said May 20 that Graham underwent a successful procedure designed to stabilize the pelvic fracture he suffered. In lay terms, doctors said it was a procedure performed through small puncture incisions using orthopedic surgical hardware to support and firmly hold in place the fractured sections of pelvic bone.
“Rev. Graham is doing great,” C. Michael LeCroy, an orthopedic traumatologist, said. “He’s in great spirits and recovering nicely. The procedure was successful in accomplishing our goals.”
The goals of the surgery, LeCroy and other doctors said, were to ensure that the socket of the hip joint is held in place during healing to prevent any further displacement and to help alleviate pain during recovery. The procedure will enable Graham to begin immediately a program of physical rehabilitation. Rehab efforts were scheduled to begin May 21.
Hastings noted that Graham has missed few meetings due to health during nearly six decades of crusade evangelism. Only once in recent memory, Hastings said, has a crusade been postponed to allow Graham to return and preach at a later date.
Graham also is scheduled to preach a crusade at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., July 29-Aug. 1. No information was available on how Graham’s hospitalization might impact the California crusade. Organizers of the L.A. crusade are expected to meet later in May to discuss the matter.
A delay in the crusade also could impact scheduling of “The Work of an Evangelist,” scheduled June 16-18 at a hotel in Overland Park, Kan. The workshop, conducted by the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, is an intense evangelism and training session designed to aid Christian workers with practical methods of evangelism and discipleship.
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, sponsor of the workshop, said a postponement of the crusade likely would affect the class dates.
Bob Baysinger is managing editor of The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.