CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WIAT) — Birmingham, is one of three U.S. cities on the list with Barcelona, Tokyo and L’viv Ukraine, picked as sites for the Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham.
These festivals are much like the crusades of Graham’s father Billy Graham, with an updated presentation, such as music with big name Christian acts.
The dates for Birmingham are August 14-16 at Bartow arena. It’s a free event that one of the organizers attorney Dale Wallace said is supposed to be about evangelism and unity.
The idea for the event came in 2013.
He said, “The invitation came initially from Mike McLemore the executive director Birmingham Baptist Association he and several leaders had been up here to pray at Vulcan. They had been praying that morning. The theme was evangelism yes, but the unity of our city. They really thought what type of event could be used to bring that unity together. A big event a celebratory event to bring the churches and the people together.”
Wallace said when they extended the invitation to the Graham Association they agreed.
Franklin Graham heads two global organizations: Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Samaritans Purse.
Their teams have been on the ground in Nepal helping earth quake victims more recently, and even in Baltimore during their police killing riots.
Comments Graham made about the rash of police killings provoked an impromptu meeting in Birmingham with some members of the organizing team.
“There was some concerns by many people, and so to his great credit and the credit of his organization, we said we reached out and said we need to clear up some of this. Franklin looked at his schedule he found a day, we only had like 8 or 10 days’ notice,” said Wallace. “But he came, we had a luncheon so he could meet people the mayor was there. We had a prayer event later that day, Chief Roper was there and led in such an incredible way and so we began to resolve some question marks about who he really is. And one of the things you learn about Franklin, he is the humble man that his father was. I think sometimes maybe he says things that are a little miss understood. Meeting him one on one resolved a lot of issues anyone had about what is motivation is he is a healing unifying person.”
But his comments on same-sex marriage are not considered unifying at all. Some in the LGBT community call them hateful. For his part, Graham said he is not judging people, he feels it’s his duty to warn them.
He said he is coming to Birmingham to bring a message of hope.
“The gospel at the foot of the cross, the ground is level, we are all sinners before God. Christ died for all of our sins and he was buried for our sins and God raised his son to life and the gospel is for all men. It’s not for one race or one group or one tribe, it’s for all men. Christ died for all and we’re all guilty before God,” said Graham.
As for why Birmingham, Graham said quite simply, “We got an invitation. Birmingham is an important city in our country, it is one of the more important cities in the south. It represents a lot of change.”
Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News