June 21, 2005


In New York, Billy Graham Will Find an Evangelical Force (MICHAEL LUO, 6/21/05, NY Times)

The change is evident every Sunday at the sprawling campus of the Christian Cultural Center in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, built in 2000 in the style of a suburban megachurch, with a restaurant, a coffee shop and an outdoor garden with ponds stocked with Japanese koi. More than 10,000 flock there every week to praise God. It is evident at a warehouse in Flushing occupied by Faith Bible Ministry, where six services are held every Sunday, in English and three dialects of Chinese, for more than 700 congregants.

And it is evident in any drive through Harlem and the Bronx, where large charismatic Latino churches, as well as their smaller storefront siblings, spring into view. Among them are La Sinagoga in East Harlem, a historic center of Pentecostalism in the city; John 3:16 in Longwood, the Bronx, a thriving congregation of several hundred; and Fountain of Salvation in Washington Heights, an influential church here as well as in Latin America.

"Even though we live in a city of darkness, within the darkness, there is light as well," said Esther Castro, a longtime member of La Sinagoga.

Mr. Graham, in a recent interview, said pastors in New York had been calling on him to come to the city, assuring him that his audience was eager and growing.

"They just felt after 9/11 there was a search on the part of many people for the purpose and meaning in their lives," he said. "And they felt that a crusade like this could be one thing that could speak to a lot of people. They said their churches are growing, and a thousand new churches have sprung up since I was in New York, especially in various ethnic groups." [...]

[I]t was armed with this portrait of the growing ranks of the faithful that Rev. Robert J. Johannson, of Evangel Church in Long Island City, Queens, and the Rev. Marcos Rivera, of Primitive Christian Church in Manhattan, went last year to Mr. Graham's mountaintop retreat in North Carolina to issue an official invitation.

"We went down and said, 'God is moving in New York,' " said Mr. Johannson. "The church is growing."

But evangelical leaders have been frustrated, he said. Despite what they sense are their growing numbers, evangelicals still can feel invisible in the city, Mr. Johannson said. They see Mr. Graham's visit as a chance to change that.

"He has the ability to give a city an awareness that something is happening," Mr. Johannson said.

The invitation this time contrasts markedly from when Mr. Graham came to New York in 1957 at the behest of a besieged and shrinking cadre of evangelical and main-line denominational leaders, pastors said.

Just think how many folks were certain he was fighting a losing battle in the late '50s...

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 21, 2005 10:30 AM

It's similar to reading Witness, much of which treats as a near certainty that in the struggle between belief systems, Christianity would lose to Communism...

Posted by: b at June 21, 2005 10:40 AM

I am the 90 year old founder of Earth Day. My wife, Anna, attended Billy Graham's first New York meeting. I attended his California Tent meeting and later visited him at his home in North Caralina. I have a photoe of him in front of his home and he is holding the hands of my two eldest children, Connie and Cary.

He supported my efforts - but it has been years since we were in touch with each other.

Dear Billy: please look at my web site (www.earthsite.org) and give me a call.

John McConnell 303/758-7687

Posted by: John McConnell at June 21, 2005 2:59 PM


If I had the choice of admitting that I founded Earth Day and admitting that I had virtually every sexual disease contagious to mankind, I would without hesitation admit to the latter.

The harm you have caused, if for no other reason than subjecting hundreds of millions of American schoolchildren over decades to the most inane anti-scientific, nature-worshipping drivel imaginable, justifies that you should be moved either to the top of Mt Athos, safely away from human companionship or to a nice, comfy cell in Gitmo where you can wile away the rest of your years to the plaintive sounds of Public Enemy or Dr Dre.

Posted by: bart at June 21, 2005 7:51 PM

And no one would be surprised.

Posted by: oj at June 21, 2005 7:56 PM

Anyone who knows me, my cleanliness fetish and my essentially Victorian lifestyle would be. Someone of us are adults and can distinguish between what should be legal and what we would do.

Posted by: bart at June 21, 2005 8:24 PM