Church groups ready for Graham crusade

Denominations join forces, aiming for big turnout

Posted: Sunday, September 17, 2000

Partial schedule of crusade events

the Juneau Empire

The following are some of the preparatory classes during the coming weeks, as well as some of the highlights of the Celebration 2000 crusade itself:

Christian Life and

Witness Classes

Class No. 3, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 19. Glacier Valley Church of God, 8497 Thunder Mountain Road, 789-3605.

Class No. 3, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 19, Douglas Island Bible Church, 2770 David St., 586-6350.

Class No. 3, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 20, Bethel Assembly of God, 8001 Glacier Highway, 789-2176.

Class No. 4, 8:30 to 10 p.m., Sept. 20, Bethel Assembly of God.

Class No. 3, 9 to 10:30 a.m., Sept. 21, St. Paul The Apostle Catholic Church, 9055 Atlin Avenue, 789-7307.

Class No. 4, 10 to 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 21, Glacier Valley Church of God.

Class No. 4, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Thurs. Sept. 21, Douglas Island Bible Church.

Class No. 4, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Sept. 23, St. Paul Catholic Church.

Class No. 5, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 25 and Sept. 26, Chapel by the Lake, 11024 Auke Lake Way, 789-7592. Choose one of the two sessions. These final classes are to train leaders for Bible classes.

Note: Classes 1 and 2 are prerequisite for attending Class No. 3, but, as a substitute for those who missed the first sessions, videos are available. Call the crusade office (789-3333) to arrange to see them.

Highlights of the Crusade

Preview Service: 7 p.m., Oct. 4, Centennial Hall.

Kids Fest, 10-11:30 a.m., Sat., Oct. 7, at Centennial Hall. (For kids from kindergarten through middle school. A ticket is needed to enter, but free tickets are available through various local churches. Entertainment includes ventriloquist Leesha Campbell and puppets.)

Youth & Student Night, 6-10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, at Centennial Hall. (For kids from junior high through senior high. Pizza and beverages will be served from 6 to 7 p.m. From 7 to 10 p.m., evangelist Ralph Bell will speak, and The Kry, a Pacific Northwest youth musical group, will perform contemporary Christian music.)

Jerry Bennett Sr. was encouraged by the big, enthusiastic turnout at a Christian Life and Witness class held Wednesday evening at Bethel Assembly of God.

"It looks pretty good. We had over 200 people at the class," Bennett said.

Bennett is ethnic chairman for Juneau's Celebration 2000, a religious crusade scheduled for Oct. 4-8 at Centennial Hall. The series of four Christian classes he and other residents are attending are part of the preparation for this evangelistic outreach. In an effort to get the spiritual aspects of life onto the front burner, Juneau churches have been preparing since September 1999.

"The biggest highlight is that churches are getting together," said Rev. Bob Tornquist of the First Church of God.

"I can already feel a sense of cooperation building among the churched and the unchurched. We are bringing down walls: The Catholics and the Protestants are working together. That's a miracle," Tornquist said.

Hundreds of people have been organizing since February, said Pastor Johnny Reimer of the Douglas Island Bible Church and chairman of Celebration 2000's executive/general committee.

The crusade is sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based in Minneapolis. Reimer is an old hand at answering the association's prayers, having organized two previous Graham crusades in Juneau, in 1985 and in 1989.

In June, 21 out of 35 local churches were expected to participate in Celebration 2000 -- a higher than usual percentage for the association's crusade. "That has increased to 25 out of 35," he said.

The crusade was budgeted at $300,000, of which $158,000 needed to be raised locally. Juneau organizers had raised only $13,500 in June, but things have changed for the better, Reimer said.

"We were able to have a final budget meeting and reduce that by $10,000 to $148,000. Especially this past week, several churches have come through with quite large donations, and others are indicating they are going to do the same. One group of people gave $10,000," Reimer said.

Bill Marti of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is directing Celebration 2000 from Minneapolis. When he heard from Reimer how funding was going, he said, "Full speed ahead."

"I have worked with many different cities, but this leadership group in Juneau has been the most focused, dedicated group I have ever experienced," Marti said. Judging from the turnout for life and witness classes, he predicted "a very strong attendance."

About 15 percent of Juneau residents attend church, and the crusade aims to increase that number. It will minister even to those behind bars, said Rev. Mick Ewing, the crusade's prison/jail coordinator.

Brent Smith of Fallon, Nevada, and Jimmy Mamou of Alameda, Calif., preach to inmates, Ewing said. "They use music, and they're very dynamic speakers. Mamou used to be an entertainer, and Smith used to be a cowboy." Smith and Mamou will address prisoners at Lemon Creek Correctional Center, Johnson Youth Center and Glacier Manor, Ewing said.

After 14 years pastoring at Cavalry Fellowship, and a stint in Russia, Ewing is the state prison's chaplain. "It's interesting that the Graham people recognize that some people can't come (to the crusade) so they go to them," he said.

Leading up to the crusade proper, assemblies will be held during the week of Oct. 2 in some local schools. "They will not be religious in nature. They will deal with honesty, theft and self-image," Reimer said.

Ventriloquist Leesha Campbell will use puppets at school assemblies as well as the crusade's Kids Fest, said Ruth Johnson, a member of Auke Bay Bible Church and coordinator for the children's ministry aspect of the crusade.

"Leesha's focus is on treating one another with respect, obeying your teacher, what makes a good friend, how to be a good friend on the playground and resolving conflict," Johnson said.

To contribute or for details, call the local crusade office at 789-3333. Donations may be made payable to Celebration 2000, and mailed to P.O. Box 35135, Juneau, AK 99803.

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