More Than 35,000 Come Together in Gainesville for Franklin Graham Festival

Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn
Friday, 19 April 2002

Three Hundred Thirty Area Churches Join Together to Bring Graham and Grammy Award-Winning Artists to the Three-Day Event

In the university town of Gainesville, tens of thousands of locals from many church denominations and races united this past weekend for a common cause.

Overflow audiences totaling 35,637 gathered at the University of Florida's O'Connell Center for the three-day event (April 12-14) known as the North Central Florida Festival 2002 with Franklin Graham. Each evening, Graham spoke from his heart about spiritual issues impacting our culture. The Festival also included an eclectic range of music by award-winning artists Michael W. Smith, Kirk Franklin, Jaci Velasquez, Crystal Lewis, Delirious?, and Nicole C. Mullen.

"This weekend, we've seen thousands of people of all denominations, all backgrounds, and many cultural and racial differences work together for one common purpose," said Bob Edmunds, executive chairman of the local Festival committee. "This Festival is for those searching for something better, something more meaningful in life."

During the Festival, more than 2,000 people accepted Graham's invitation to commit their lives to Jesus Christ.

Over the past year, more than 330 local churches and thousands of volunteers joined together, overcoming racial and denominational barriers to help organize the Festival.

Highlights of the Festival included special messages from Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel and Shannon Spann, wife of the first American killed in combat in Afghanistan, as well as musical performances by the California-based Tommy Coomes Praise Band, the world's fastest flat-picker Dennis Agajanian, popular Australian musician Steve Grace, and a 1,300-voice local choir.

In addition to the nightly events, 4,537 children came to the Saturday-morning kids program featuring actor Willie Aames (of TV's "Eight is Enough") in his popular role of "Bibleman." Following the presentation, 690 children and adults responded to the invitation to commit their lives to Christ.

The Festival was a non-denominational effort organized through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and supported and planned by local church leaders from the area.

This event in Gainesville was Graham's second Festival this year, having recently completed a Festival in San Salvador, El Salvador. This year's remaining events will be held in College Station, Texas (May 2-5); Spokane, Washington (Aug. 23-25); and Mendoza, Argentina (Nov. 14-16).

Franklin Graham, 49, is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization currently working in more than 100 countries.

For more information, or to contact Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn, see their website at:

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