Promise Keepers in Charleston: Men Focus on Spiritual Freedom

( [email protected] ) Jul 14, 2004 10:01 PM EDT

Men from all over the nation have been filling up arenas for Promise Keepers’ 2004 conferences. The high-tech layout of the worship experience, the highly-charged speakers, and the brotherhood is enough reason for some 7,800 men to attend PK's most recent conference, but many just come seeking for a place to grow in faith.

Conference participant Andrew Morgan, 43, said, “Promise Keepers is going to help me on the better path.”

Promise Keepers has been ministering to men for 14 years and show no sign of slowing down.

“We’re here to encourage and ignite men in the world,” said Promise Keepers President Thomas S. Fortson, Ph.D.

The July 9-10 conference was held in the Civic Center Arena in Charleston, WV. It was the fifth of 18 conferences part of a tour based on a book entitled The Uprising: A Revolution of a Man’s Soul, written by Los Angeles Pastor Erwin McManus.

The conference theme “Uprising” outlined three great quests for men: for honor, for nobility, and for enlightenment. Atlanta author Crawford Loritts captured the spirit of the ancient concept of honor. “Honor is what we stand for, and is what gives our lives weight,” Loritts said.

At least four U.S. Army bases in the Middle East and Asia, as well as two prison facilities in West Virginia: Mount Olive Correctional Complex and St. Mary’s Correctional Center were able to join the entire conference through a broadcast.

Although the men at the conference were not incarcenated like those watching from prison, many may be entrapped in their personal prisons, suggested Emcee Reggie Dabbs. After Sonicflood performed on the opening night, Dabbs pointed to a cage on the stage, which had earlier enclosed a man, and asked how many men noticed the caged man?

“Our hope is that through this weekend you can be freed from this cage,” said Dabbs.

“How many of us stopped to help the guy get out?” asked McManus. “All around us, men are living in cages. After this weekend, we will never live in cages again.”

Promise Keepers was founded in 1990 by then University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney. The ministry has taken a strong role promoting family values by fostering men to become better fathers and husbands. More recently, after Barna Research released a PK-commissioned study showing men were not satisfied with their spiritual experiences, Promise Keepers has been more actively calling on men to have more influence in their culture.

Christian comedian Brad Stine even commented on same-sex marriages at the conference. “Men who marry men are cowards,” said Stine. “What’s so hard about that? Real men marry women. That’s a challenge!”

Many have enjoyed the spiritual focus of the event.

Tony Caridi, the voice of the University of West Virginia Mountaineers, attended with his 13-year old son. “I wanted him to see what it was like. Promise Keepers is a great vehicle for sharing our faith.”

“I think it’s great, spreading God’s word,” said Herb Knight, a Beckley coal miner who attends the Church of God Family Worship Center.

The next Promise Keepers conference will be on July 16-17, 2004 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich. Thousands are again expected to attend.