Will Graham

Will Graham spoke in Bridgeport Tuesday.

FAIRMONT —  Two members of Fairmont City Council expressed enthusiasm Tuesday about an upcoming multi-day event scheduled to take place in Fairmont next year featuring the grandson of the late evangelist Billy Graham.

The “Mountain State Celebration with Will Graham” is scheduled for April 24-26, 2020 at Fairmont State University’s Feaster Center, according to a news release.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Brad Merrifield and city council member Barry Bledsoe spoke about the upcoming event.

Merrifield, who was present at an announcement earlier in the day in Bridgeport, said he is excited about the Mountain State Celebration.

“It’s a special opportunity for the city and the university to showcase ourselves, and it’s also an excellent opportunity for us to work with the cities on the I-79 Corridor to develop working relationships,” he said, after the council meeting.

He said the event will bring in thousands of guests to Fairmont.

“This is a big deal,” he said.

Merrifield described the event as “a religious celebration.”

According to a news release, the multi-day evangelistic outreach “will be free of charge and feature music from Christian artists and encouraging messages from Will Graham.”

 “After praying about the invitation to hold a Celebration in the mountains of West Virginia, I believe that the timing is right to proclaim the Gospel here,” said Graham in the news release. 

“I’ve been around the world sharing the timeless message of God’s love for us, and I can’t wait to return to Fairmont next year to share the hope and peace of Jesus Christ,” he stated.

“Even though the Celebration event will not take place for several months, it has already taken on a life of its own. Friendships have been cast, visions have been created, and excitement has been forged,” Merrifield stated in the news release “The Celebration is so much more than a three-day event. It appears to be a lifetime of possibilities. We are blessed for the opportunity presented us and we will not let it pass by.”

The news release went on to state a “nearly continuous stream of activities and planning will take place across the region between now and the Celebration in April, including prayer rallies, workshops and community gatherings.”

Bledsoe was also excited about the upcoming Mountain State Celebration.

“I think this is going to be one of the biggest events that Fairmont has seen,” he said at the council meeting.

He added that it would be “an opportunity to do some good for people who need it.”

Bledsoe thought it would be a good idea to arrange some busing to the event for the homeless or those living with addiction. 

“I want to get as many people there as I can,” he said. He thought it would be an “amazing” event, and said he couldn’t wait to see it happen.

Erik Ogren, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Sr. Public Relations & Social Media Specialist, said the announcement Tuesday was an “incredible event”  with more than 175 pastors and civic leaders coming together.

According to a news release, the cross-section of local leadership that was present included Merrifield and Fairmont State University President Mirta Martin “to demonstrate their cooperation in the upcoming Mountain State Celebration with Will Graham.”

Will Graham, along with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, held the special event for pastors and church leaders to announce the upcoming Mountain State Celebration with Will Graham.

“It was just a good fellowship opening,” Merrifield told council. “There’s going to be many more activities for all of us to attend. It was very exceptional, so I was glad that we attended that.”

More info is available online at MountainStateCelebration.com.

In other business, council provided a first reading and introduction for a proposed ordinance regarding two parcels on Guffey Street at 507 Guffey St. and set Oct. 22 for a public hearing on the proposed ordinance.

The proposed ordinance authorizes the city manager to do everything necessary to provide for the transfer of the real estate from Tracey Glaspell to the City of Fairmont and for the transfer of the real estate form the City of Fairmont to an “as yet unidentified adjoining property owner.”

The synopsis of the proposed ordinance notes that the transactions contemplated by the ordinance are “for purposes of providing for the abatement of a dilapidated, abandoned and vacant structure.”

Council passed a resolution to reschedule the regular city council meeting of Dec. 24 to Dec. 17.

Council also made two re-appointments to the Fairmont Water Board for three-year terms to end Nov. 9, 2022.

The reappointments are James Decker and Thomas DeVito.

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or ehrin@timeswv.com.

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