Two mass rallies inspired by the Columbine High School tragedy will drawpeople to Washington, D.C., later this year to pray for the country'sschools and a sweeping youth revival. "Take a Stand" May 19-21 will focus ona call to restore prayer in public schools, while "The Call," slated forSept. 2, will spotlight the need for a spiritual awakening.
Darrell Scott, whose 17-year-old daughter, Rachel, was one of the Christiansmurdered in Littleton, Colo., last April when 12 students and one teacherdied, is due to speak at both events. Top British band Delirious is amongthe artists scheduled to take part in The Call.
Organizers of Take a Stand hope 100,000 people will show up on the NationalMall for the three-day event, bringing with them thousands of signatures fora petition urging the restoration of school prayer. Participants will circlethe Supreme Court in silent prayer and also take part in a "Jericho March"round the building.
The rally is being planned by Truth Broadcasting Co., a small Christian TVministry in Charlotte, N.C. President Linda Furr said that the idea came toher after the Columbine killings. "I was so astounded by it, and as I prayedI saw that it was a spiritual battle that was going on, that spiritualdarkness has invaded the schools since prayer was taken out in 1963," shesaid.
"When God is not wanted somewhere He won't be there. He was basically toldthat He was not wanted in our public schools--they are an institution whereHe is not welcome. I'm sure He does work through the Christians who arethere, and it would be a whole lot worse if there weren't people praying,but basically the darkness has invaded."
The 13 wooden memorial crosses erected near Columbine that became aninternational symbol of the tragedy will be taken to Washington for therally. "But it is not about gun control," Furr said. "We are not going to becarrying placards or anything. This will be more of a spiritualatmosphere."
Up to 400,000 people are expected at the Mall for The Call, but "it is notabout numbers," said Che Ahn, pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena,Calif., and chairman of the organizing group, which includes a wide-range ofnational youth ministries. The leading speakers and artists taking part arenot being advertised because the event is "not a concert, notentertainment--it's a solemn assembly, a day where people will cometogether, worship, pray, fast and repent."
The idea of a national gathering of young people as a "counterpoint" to the1997 Promise Keepers' rally first arose a couple of years ago, but wasgalvanized by the Columbine murders, which Ahn said were "a watershed day inAmerican history."
Lou Engle, associate pastor at Harvest Rock and a speaker at the Rock theNations youth prayer events, said that he believed the event could helpbring about "a violent spiritual shift in the destiny of America." Parentswere being encouraged to attend with young people to take part in a time ofrepentance and reconciliation.
"In the darkest hour of this nation we want two generations to come togetherto fast and pray. We are not coming to party, we are coming to seek the faceof God."