Easter sermons by Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen, Second Baptist’s Ed Young and Windsor Village United Methodist’s Kirbyjon Caldwell often brought capacity crowds to Minute Maid Park.
Former Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr., the impetus behind those sermons, now invites worshippers to Waco on Palm Sunday for a religious rally at the new Baylor University stadium that bears his name.
McLane, a Baylor alumnus, regent and lead contributor to the new $266 million, 45,000-seat stadium, said the idea came to him as he attended last fall’s first game in the facility, which pitted Baylor against Southern Methodist University.
“We’ve got seven home games at Baylor,” McLane said. “It didn’t seem like a good idea just to have it vacant the rest of year. This being a religious university, it seemed we ought to do something with a great religious purpose.”
With a nod to the traditional hymn “Shall We Gather at the River?,” tens of thousands of worshippers are expected at McLane Stadium for the Baptist university’s “Gathering on the Brazos” kickoff of Holy Week activities.
Featuring Dallas “mega-preacher” Tony Evans and performances by Houston gospel vocalist Israel Houghton and an 860-voice choir, the event is intended to address the nation’s social divisions by “unifying the United States in the body of Christ,” an organizer said.
McLane, who grew up in an intensely religious family in the Central Texas town of Cameron, said religion has been “paramount” in his life.
“My parents were very involved in the church,” he said, “and that was one of the influences I had in going to Baylor. I wanted to go to a religious school.”
When McLane suggested an Easter sunrise service, local clergy – noting that Easter services are the year’s best-attended – countered with a proposed Palm Sunday observance. The 5 p.m. event will be streamed live via the Internet onKWTX.com.
“This has always been about unity,” said Kevin Harrison, lead pastor of Waco’s Victorious Life Assembly of God Church, the event’s administrator. “We believe this is not just a service but the beginning of unifying the United States in the body of Christ. With Waco being the heart of Texas, everybody knows that the heart provides life.”
Source: Houston Chronicle | Allan Turner