Celebrating hope in tough times

Churches in St. John’s and the Avalon are coming together to celebrate music and belief in the gospel.

Will Graham
The Celebration of Hope concert is hosted by evangelist Will Graham. He is the grandson of world famous evangelist Billy Graham. Supplied photo

Alex Kennedy

Mile One Centre will be doing a different kind of rocking this weekend as some of the biggest names in Christian music take the stage.

The Avalon Celebration of Hope concert will run over three shows from Nov. 2-4 in St. John’s. Major players in Christian music such as King and Country, and The Color will perform. The event is hosted by American evangelist Will Graham. Graham is the grandson of Billy Graham, the world famous evangelist who rose to fame starting in the 1940s and died in February.

Major Lorne Pritchett represents the Salvation Army in Conception Bay South and is the co-executive chairman of the event. He says a meeting like this is long overdue in the city.

“It was the early to mid-90s since we’ve had a high-level gospel event where all the churches came together in St. John’s and on the Avalon,” said Pritchett. “It’s high time we do that. The time is right for it to see the unity of the church behind the gospel.”

“The church gets distracted by religion. We want to do something to draw attention to the fact that we’re greater than our denominational pegs.”

Shootings targeting religious and ethnic groups have left a lot of people with a feeling of unease. The Oct. 27 shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left 11 dead and 26 worshipers were gunned down at a Texas Baptist church a year ago. In Canada, a 2017 attack on a mosque in Quebec City left six dead.

For volunteers like Allan Bradbury, it’s important this event is happening now.

“Lately in the news we see a lot of doom and gloom and economic trouble,” he said. “People have so much uncertainty in their lives.

“Personally, I feel like my relationship with God helps me get through tough times and definitely helps me feel like I have hope,” said Bradbury, who is also a first-year journalism student at the college. “That I can get through a period of struggle because there’s someone out there looking out for my best interest and there are so many other people who need to hear a message like that.”

Religion can be used as a mechanism of division, but Pritchett preaches a message of acceptance and unity – something he wants everyone to know.

“Unity doesn’t mean uniformity,” said Prichett. “We, as the church, don’t have to all look exactly alike and sound exactly alike to agree on the gospel … The church gets distracted by religion. We want to do something to draw attention to the fact that we’re greater than our denominational pegs. We’re much greater than that.”

All three shows are free admission to the public. Doors will open 60 minutes before show time and a collection will be taken at the event.

Pritchett hopes everyone who comes through the door will leave with a sense of clarity.

“Amidst all of the confusion that religion sometimes brings, I want them to have some clarity of what the gospel is.”

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