Sunday, June 30, 2002

Deficit possible for Cincinnati mission

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Smaller than expected crowds could make this Billy Graham mission the first in recent memory to run a financial deficit.

        But officials of the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said before Saturday's service that even if the money collected in nightly offerings and local donations falls short of the $2.85 million budget for the four-day mission, the local organizing committee will not be left holding the bag.

        “The Billy Graham association will not leave this community with unpaid bills,” said Rick Marshall, director of missions for the association.

        About 70 percent of the $2.85 million budget had already been raised by the time the gates opened at Paul Brown Stadium Thursday afternoon, with the money coming from a wide variety of local churches, businesses and individuals.

        The approximately $360,000 in offerings from the estimated 73,000 attendees Thurday and Friday raised the take to nearly 80 percent.

        But mission organizers had hoped to raise nearly $900,000 from the offerings taken at the four main services. That meant they needed to gather more than $500,000 Saturday and Sunday.

        “Saturday is mostly for the kids and the young people. They don't have any money,” said the Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Carthage and a co-chair of the Graham mission here.

        “It's going to be tough to do, but we don't want to run a deficit,” Rev. Lynch said.

        The first thing that happened when Saturday night's concert and service for youth began at 6:30 p.m. was a prayer and a plea for money.

        Gabriel Mudd, a Cincinnati teenager, delivered the offertory message to a crowd that appeared to be the biggest by far of the Cincinnati mission this week.

        “Remember everybody, this is a non-ticketed event,” Mr. Mudd told the crowd. “It's time to give. If we give to God, he is going to give back beyond measure.”

        Sunday is typically the biggest night for giving during a Billy Graham mission.

        Today's program — the final service of the mission — begins at 7 p.m.

        The mission has major expenses it must meet including $150,000 for the rental of Paul Brown Stadium. Graham organization officials say they will have to spend at least another $90,000 to replace football turf torn up by the massive stage and the plywood road built down the middle of the field.

        Graham missions do not typically run deficits. In fact, they usually end with financial surpluses. Money left over does not go to the Rev. Mr. Graham. It is typically used as seed money for the next mission or to fund follow-up mission programs — such as food pantries and shelters — in the city where it was raised.


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