The East Coast Festival in Nova Scotia begins today as Franklin Graham opens up the evangelistic event in the same arena where his father, Billy Graham preached 25 years ago. Thousands are expected to attend not only in the city of Halifax, but also in another arena 250 miles east on remote Cape Breton Island, where Festival events will be shown on live satellite TV.
“Spiritually, Nova Scotia has been lukewarm at best,” the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) said in a recently released statement. “But ever so slowly, like one of Halifax’s ocean-going freighters, the church has been changing course.”
According to the agency, denominational divisions addressed by Billy Graham in his 1979 Crusade have begun to heal, and churches once entrenched in “survival mode” have begun to reach out in ministry. But still, for the past two years, Christian leaders have been praying together for revival, the agency reported.
Now, today, after more than a year of planning, through the BGEA, in cooperation with more than 260 churches and 30 denominations, that revival may come.
“I look forward to bringing God’s message of hope to Halifax,” said Graham, who accepted local church leaders’ invitation to lead the festival. “People will hear local and international recording artists, personal testimonies, and most importantly, an opportunity to accept a challenge that will change their lives.”
The festival will also feature international award-winning Christian artists Rachael Lampa, Jars of Clay, Tree63 and Nicole C. Mullen. Long-time guest artists of the Graham Festivals Dennis Agajanian, who is the 2003 Christian Country Musician of the Year and Entertainer of the Year and a former world Guinness record holder for fastest flat picking, and the Tommy Coomes Band.
Local artists performing include Ninth Hour of PEI, the Lapointes, and Thirstforyou of New Brunswick. Eric Whyte, The Contact, and the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, ‘All of Nova Scotia’, will also take to the stage.
Graham is scheduled to speak at all programs except Saturday morning, delivering messages that are expected to set thousands back on the right course.
“The people of Nova Scotia have been known for centuries as deep-sea fisherman,” the BGEA said. “But Jesus has a far deeper calling for them: ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men’.”
The three-day festival will conclude on Oct. 17.