AUTHOR: ARMIST

HED:Final touches made for crusade

By John Armistead

Daily Journal

What: Franklin Graham Crusade.

When: March 9-11 at 7:30 nightly with pre-concerts at 7 nightly.

Where: Tupelo Coliseum.

Seating/Offering: All seats are free. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. No ticket is required. An offering for the crusade expenses will be received in each service, if needed.

Parking: Parking will be free of charge.

Final preparations for the March 9-11 Franklin Graham Crusade at Tupelo's Coliseum are in high gear, according to crusade organizers.

"We've done all that we can do, and now we just have to trust the Lord to do what he is going to do," said Sherman Barnett, a representative with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association who is working with the local planning committee.

The first service of the crusade will be Sunday at 7:30 p.m. A musical concert at 7 p.m. will precede each night's service. Both admission and parking at the Coliseum are free.

One of the final training sessions for crusade workers will be conducted tonight. At Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo, workers who will process cards on people who make decisions after the sermon will go over their procedures. Cards will be mailed immediately following the service each night to the pastors of participating churches.

The platform at the Coliseum will be assembled Friday, and Saturday several groups of workers - including ushers, choir members and counselors - will meet and rehearse for Sunday night's opening service.

Barnett said more than 3,500 volunteers have been involved with preparing for the event.

Children's rally

The highlight crusade event Saturday will be a children's rally at 10 a.m. in the Coliseum featuring illusionist Mark John and Company. Organizers are preparing for more than 3,000 elementary school-age children at this event.

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, is an associate evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and has been named successor to his father as chief executive officer.

In an earlier interview, Graham said, "I'm looking forward to coming to Northeast Mississippi. It's been on my heart and I hope and pray we'll see many people come to Christ."

Harry Martin, chairman of the Northeast Mississippi Franklin Graham Crusade committee, said he feels excitement about the crusade is growing every day.

"To work with the Graham organization is an inspiration, and this thing is going to have a great impact on our community," he said.

Martin pointed out that the cost of using the Coliseum for the crusade is $70,000.

"We're digging in and coming along," he said, "but we still are seeking financing."

Those interested in helping can contribute through their local church, Martin said, or directly to the Northeast Mississippi Franklin Graham Crusade, P.O. Box 7188, Tupelo, MS 38802.

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