‘The Gathering on the Brazos,’ a National Grass-Roots Worship and Prayer Service, Will Return to Baylor’s McLane Stadium in 2017
Unity across denominational and racial lines will be the theme, organizers say
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WACO, Texas (Nov. 16, 2015) — A national grass-roots movement to cut across racial, socioeconomic and denominational divides with a worship and prayer service will return in two years, on Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017, at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium.
Baylor Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane Jr., a Baylor alumnus, and Ramiro Peña, executive director of The Gathering and pastor of Christ the King Church in Waco, made the announcement at a news conference Monday in the President’s Suite at McLane Stadium. They emphasized the momentum built by the inaugural “The Gathering on the Brazos,” which drew more than 35,000 people from across the country and other nations on Palm Sunday this year. Thousands more viewed the service via live television and live streaming nationally and internationally.
“When you have a success, the next step is deciding what you’re going to do to have this success again,” said McLane, who, along with his family, provided a leadership gift for construction of the 45,000-seat stadium. “The community, pastors, political leaders and the entire community came together and made this so successful. We feel this is a significant step.”
Peña, flanked by several area pastors, noted there had been widespread interest for another such event from numerous churches and congregation members in other cities, and that planning has just begun.
The theme will be unity, Peña said, citing Jesus’ words in John 17 in which he prayed for his followers, asking, “Father, make them one as you and I are one.”
Peña, a former Baylor regent, lauded Baylor and local churches for their support and noted, “In addition to clusters of churches coming together for worship, we want to unite across racial and denominational lines,” he said. “This is an organic unity movement.”
“The Gathering” began with a conversation between Peña and McLane, who told the pastor that he longed to see the stadium used for more than football and asked whether Peña would take the lead in filling it for a worship service. More than 120 Central Texas pastors joined in a four-month whirlwind effort to organize it and spread the word.
“We’re delighted to work with pastors and their congregations to host this event,” said Baylor Director of Athletics Ian McCaw, who also spoke at the press conference.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.