By Joy Moton | Staff Writer
Churches of various denominations will assemble in McLane Stadium for a night of unified worship. Two years ago, The Gathering made history by being the largest assembly of Christians in the history of Waco. This event, that united 35,000 people, will take place again at 6:30 p.m. April 9 in McLane Stadium.
The idea behind the Gathering is to unify the various churches of the Waco community for a time of fellowship and worship in honor of Palm Sunday. A goal for this year’s Gathering is to maintain the traction of unity that was established at the first Gathering event two years ago.
“What we wanted to create in Waco is this atmosphere where we can represent Christ in the biblical manner that he has taught us, and that is in one body in the city of Waco,” said C.J. Oliver, retired pastor of the Greater New Light Missionary Baptist Church.
Worship will be led by local worship leaders and a combined mass choir made up of 1,000 singers from local churches. There will also be music by Anthony Evans, Christian vocalist who appeared on NBC series “The Voice” and the son of Dr. Tony Evans, who spoke at the Gathering two years ago. Scott Drew, the Baylor men’s basketball coach, will also share his testimony.
Admission is free, but those who plan to attend are asked to bring two cans of nonperishable food items with them to donate to local food pantries. John Durham, lead pastor of Highland Baptist Church, said that two years ago, people who attended the Gathering accumulated nearly 14 tons of canned food. He said another goal for this year is to collect 20 tons of nonperishable food items.
This year’s speaker will be Miles McPherson, pastor of the Rock Church in San Diego and former defensive back of the San Diego Chargers. Durham said the executive team selected him because he is accustomed to speaking to large arenas of people due to his congregation of nearly 19,000 members.
“We feel so good about his ability to articulate the greatest hope that there is: the hope of knowing Christ,” Durham said.
At a time where the nation seems more divided than ever, the directors of the Gathering hope the event will serve as an example of solidarity for the rest of the country, Durham said.
“We’re kind of living in a split and splintered country, and because of that, our cities are splintered and split. So, we believe that events like this can help us come together across racial and denominational and cultural barriers that certainly exist in our country,” Durham said.
For more information about the Gathering, visit www.thegatheringwaco.com.
“What we hope is that people will hear the best story ever, which is the story of God so loving the world that he gave us Jesus,” Durham said.