- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2007

Christian men are being called back to the Mall this fall for a 10th-anniversary celebration of the 1997 Promise Keepers “Stand in the Gap” event that attracted about 1 million followers for prayer and worship.

The original event was the largest men’s gathering ever in the United States. It was praised for its breakthroughs in racial reconciliation and vilified by some women’s groups as misogynistic.

“Stand in the Gap 2007” will be less ambitious. Organizers have secured the grounds of the Washington Monument and the Ellipse for the Oct. 6 event with room for about 250,000 men.

“We’re calling on men of all ages to come together with full regard and respect for racial, ethnic, denominational, economic and political diversity to declare the purposes of God for this generation,” said Marty Granger, executive director for the event.

Basing their mission on Psalm 145:4, which says, “One generation will commend Your works to another,” organizers said they want to make a spiritual gathering of men a regular event on the seventh year of each decade.

“We realize that events do not change lifestyles or make good habits,” said the Rev. Rick Kingham, president of the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries and the event’s organizer. “Events can, however, be catalysts to lift the fog of complacency.”

Promise Keepers remains based in Denver, but since 1997 has gone through major changes, including significant financial losses, layoffs and the resignation of its president, Bill McCartney, in 2003. It now is concentrating on smaller-scale events.

A Promise Keepers spokes- man could not be reached for comment. The organization is a member of the men’s ministries coalition behind this year’s event. Several of the 2007 planners helped organize the 1997 gathering.

When it became plain four years ago that Promise Keepers would not plan an anniversary gathering, Mr. Granger said, he and a few evangelical Protestant men in Northern Virginia formed a local organizing committee. They were from Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Burke Community Church in Burke and McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va.

What was needed, he said, was a “fresh spiritual marker” in the lives of American men. They have created a Web site, www.standinthegap2007.org, and are seeking to raise $2.5 million to cover the cost of the rally.

No Catholic or Orthodox men have been appointed to the steering committee, but organizers said the event is open to all Christians.

“There are several interactive elements where the men will be involved experientially,” Mr. Granger said. No speakers have been named.

Organizers said the idea behind the gathering is not simply to listen to inspiring speeches or worship, but to mobilize men for good deeds after the event.

“We believe men are called to be a credible witness to Jesus Christ in their lives,” Mr. Kingham said. “We’re calling on men to make a difference that will last far beyond congressional and political terms of office.”

The group is seeking chairmen for the event to garner support in various cities, especially those within 250 miles of the District. About 60 percent of the men who attended the 1997 Promise Keepers rally came from within a five-hour drive.

“We believe men are created by God to do the right thing,” Mr. Kingham said. “We want to encourage men to take a stand.”

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