Weather can't diminish spirit of four-day crusade

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

LEESBURG -- The numbers may not have been what organizers were hoping for, but there are no complaints about the end results of the That We May Be One in Christ crusade that concluded here Wednesday.

Despite one night hampered by the threat of rain and a second cold night at the Lee County High School football stadium, more than 2,000 people turned out over the four nights of the crusade to hear speakers that included former athletes Brian Jordan and Siran Stacy, as well as ministers Larry Wynn of Dacula and Daniel Simmons of Albany.

"Certainly we had big expectations for the crusade, and we didn't meet those expectations numbers-wise," said the Rev. Bobby Harrell, pastor of First Baptist Church, the event's organizer. "But I don't think you can base an event like this on numbers alone.

"Spiritually, I felt that God was with us. And the unity that we had sought was there. It was reassuring to see members of the black churches and white churches worshipping together."

While the threat of rain -- which never developed -- moved Sunday's opening service indoors at First Baptist's Family Life Center, the largest crowd of the four days came out to hear former Atlanta Brave and Falcon Jordan speak. Cold weather kept the crowd numbers at their lowest level on Monday night, when Wynn brought the message.

The crowds turned out in larger numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday to hear Simmons and Stacy, respectively, deliver messages.

A number of attendees dedicated their lives to the service of Christ during the crusade, which Harrell said was the main purpose of the event.

"In the end, that will be what makes this worth it," he said. "It was a huge undertaking, and it kind of knocked my socks off that (representatives of) all the churches said afterward they were ready to do it again.

"Of course, I don't know that this is something I'd want to do again right away. Maybe in two or three years we'll look at giving it another shot. There were some good things that came of the crusade, and there are some things we learned that will help us in planning another one if we decide to do it."

Harrell had praise for the membership of First Baptist, a 2,000-member church for which he has ministered 18 years.

"All the churches that were involved did their part," Harrell said. "And I have to say my church family really stepped up and did well. Of course, I expected them to."