- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

The Rev. Billy Graham plans to speak on four consecutive days at Texas Stadium starting today.
Mr. Graham turns 84 on Nov. 7, suffers from Parkinson's disease and is in generally frail health. He underwent surgery two years ago to remove fluid from his brain.
While in Cincinnati for a meeting in June, Mr. Graham said that he felt weaker than ever. He has announced no future meetings, and an aide said he will weigh his plans after the Texas event.
"I feel a lot better here than I did in Cincinnati when we began this four months ago," Mr. Graham told reporters Tuesday morning as he sat in a golf cart before taking a tour of stadium preparations.
"This type of meeting is needed," he said. "It's needed in every city in the country, and it's needed at this particular hour in the history of the world."
Mr. Graham is scheduled to preach each of the four days of the revival. If his health prevents him from speaking, his son and designated successor, Franklin Graham, will step in. Country star Randy Travis is among the scheduled guests.
Nearly 500 churches representing 36 denominations have been preparing for Mr. Graham's arrival.
"A bunch of us in Dallas felt like it was a prime moment when we really needed Dr. Graham's message, and we realized that there was not going to be too many opportunities for him to ever come back to Dallas," said the Rev. Ronald W. Scates, pastor of the prominent Highland Park Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Scates' church at one time was led by the Rev. B. Clayton Bell, brother of Mr. Graham's wife, Ruth Bell Graham. Mr. Bell died in 2000.
"The one thing that attracts me is the aura that seems to surround him personally, and his message is right to the point and very simple," said longtime sports broadcaster Pat Summerall, who expects to present his testimony during the meetings. "Anyone knows what they have to do if they just listen to him."
Mr. Graham said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News last week that he hopes to bring a message of love to a diverse audience.
"You have Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims," he said. "I'll talk about racial understanding and racial harmony between ethnic groups and religious groups because I love all of them, and I know God loves them all."
The senior Graham has been known as an ecumenical bridge-builder, though that image was tarnished this year with the release of anti-Jewish comments he made in a taped conversation with President Nixon 30 years ago. Mr. Graham apologized for the remarks soon after their release.
His meetings, for years billed as "crusades," now are called "missions."
"Following September 11th, there was increased consciousness of other faiths in the U.S. that would find the term 'crusade' offensive," said spokeswoman Melany Ethridge.
Mr. Graham, delivering messages to 210 million people in 185 countries and territories, has preached Christianity to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history except perhaps Pope John Paul II.

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