Chapel to be named in honor of Billy and Ruth Graham

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A groundbreaking celebration was recently held for a new Center for Worship and Service in South Central Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks and Los Angeles District Nine Councilwoman Jan Perry shared their support in delivering welcome and praise for the groundbreaking of the new facility.

The Fremont area of South Central Los Angeles was identified as having the greatest need for youth development services. The Center for Worship and Service will be capable of serving up to 500 children at any given time.

Services will include recreational and educational programs, a vocational computer learning center, gymnasium, exercise room, library, several rooms (including a photo lab) devoted to the arts, and a childcare center licensed for 72 infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

The worship center will be named the “Billy and Ruth Graham Chapel.” The name could not be more appropriate. In 1949, Billy Graham held his first major crusade in South Central Los Angeles. The Salvation Army was there, providing open-air tents that helped launch Dr. Graham into an international ministry. Lloyd Docter, a former Salvation Army officer and father of New Frontier Editor Robert Docter, was in charge of Graham’s public relations campaign.

Since then, Billy Graham’s calling as an evangelist has been intertwined with The Salvation Army’s mission here in Southern California.

“We look forward to the grand opening next year. We are excited to see many lives changed through positive spiritual and educational growth,” said Lt. Colonel Alfred R. Van Cleef, divisional commander of Southern California.

Fresno, Calif. Crusade

Billy Graham recently held a four-day campaign in Fresno, where the 83-year-old evangelist addressed tens of thousands. Audiences averaged more than 46,000 at Bulldog Stadium, with Saturday evening’s crowd of 62,000 breaking the stadium attendance record.

The yearlong preparations for the Central Valley Campaign brought together more than 500 churches, representing 54 denominations.

Because of its multi-cultural population, the Central Valley is often referred to as “the Ellis Island of the 80s and 90s.” Campaign leadership made a significant effort to invite and include everyone, providing translation in 11 languages and counseling in 12.

Despite breaking his foot in three places two days earlier, Dr. Graham preached while standing and seemed to grow stronger each night. He focused his messages on God’s love and forgiveness, often referencing the attacks on our nation and the resulting uncertainty.

“We are living in a different world, which will be felt in every area of our society for years to come,” he said. “We are in troubled and difficult times. We’re going to have to rethink our lives. But in the midst of all that, there is one hope, that Jesus Christ said he is coming again. Without hope, our nation will not go on.”

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