‘The Gathering on the Brazos,’ a Grass-Roots Worship and Prayer Service at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium, to be a ‘Genesis’ for National UnityMarch 18, 2015
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WACO, Texas (March 23, 2015) — A national grass-roots movement to cut across racial, socioeconomic and denominational divides to achieve Christian unity begins with a worship and prayer service for thousands this Sunday, March 29, at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium.
Admission for “The Gathering on the Brazos” Palm Sunday event is free. But take note: “Seating is limited to the first 45,000.”
That’s 45,000 of a 45,000-seat stadium.
“We’re getting calls from people all over the country, with busloads coming in,” says Ramiro Peña, executive director of “The Gathering” and senior pastor of Waco’s Christ the King Baptist Church.
“The Gathering,” including an 860-member volunteer choir, will be televised live on ABC affiliate KXXV-TV of Central Texas, Channel 25; KWTX-TV of Central Texas will stream the event live.
More than 120 Central Texas pastors have worked together for months to spread the word — from the leader of a 100-member Vietnamese church in Hewitt to Catholic priests to Tony Evans, senior pastor of Dallas’ 10,000-member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, who will lead the service.
In the aftermath of the shooting and death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, Evans traveled to Ferguson to call on believers to join in easing America’s racially charged climate.
“We’ve had people asking from California to Washington, D.C., to Brazil saying, ‘Can you come and do something like this here?’” said Kevin Harrison, lead pastor of Victorious Life Church in Waco and lead administrator for “The Gathering.” “But this isn’t just a service, a one-night event; this is a movement, the genesis of something much bigger.”
“The Gathering” began with a conversation between Peña and longtime friend Drayton McLane Jr., Baylor donor and alumnus who, with his family, provided a leadership gift for construction of McLane Stadium.
“Drayton had a vision of using McLane Stadium for more than football,” Peña said. “He asked me, ‘Would you help fill this stadium for a worship service?’
“How can you say no to that?”
Local churches have raised money to put on the event, Harrison said. “This isn’t one significant donor — this is sacrificial giving, like the Vietnamese church giving $6,000.”
The goal is ambitious because of the diversity of the coalition, Peña acknowledged.
“But I keep coming back to a Scripture I selected for the event,” he said. “Jesus said, ‘Father, make them one as you and I are one, so the world would believe you have sent me.’
“From the outset, Jesus prayed for unity,” Peña said. “We’ve already achieved that in the planning and praying for this, and people can help by spreading the word in their cities. As far as attendance and decisions, that’s up to the Lord.”
WHAT: “The Gathering on the Brazos” prayer and worship assembly, with a canned-food drive to benefit local food pantries. Tony Evans of Dallas’ 10,000-member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship will lead the service. An 860-member choir will sing, and former Baylor University quarterback Bryce Petty and Baylor graduate Joanna Gaines, co-host of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” will give their testimonies. Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr will deliver words of encouragement.
WHEN: Pre-program will be at 4:30 p.m., with worship from 5 to 7 p.m., on Sunday, March 29. The event will be broadcast without commercials by KXXV-TV (Channel 25) from 5 to 7 p.m., and KWTX-TV of Central Texas will stream it live at www.KWTX.com
WHERE: McLane Stadium, on a 93-acre site, at 1001 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the intersection of Interstate 35 and the Brazos River.
ADMISSION: Free. Those who attend are asked to bring two canned foods.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.thegatheringwaco.com
MEDIA CONTACTS: Ramiro Peña, executive director of The Gathering, at email@example.com; Kevin Harrison, lead administrator of The Gathering, at firstname.lastname@example.org; or John Durham at email@example.com