FAIRMONT — After canceling plans to come to Fairmont amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, The Mountain State Celebration is back on.
Led by evangelist Will Graham, the free, three-day event will take place at Duvall-Rosier Field on the campus of Fairmont State University in July. The family-friendly event is open to anyone. Graham is the grandson of the popular evangelist Rev. Billy Graham.
“We’re going to have free concerts by award-winning Christian artists and bands, and then, very much like Billy Graham, Will Graham will get up and share a brief message about how people can find hope in a relationship with Jesus Christ,” said BJ Rogers, who is directing the Celebration on behalf of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
On Saturday morning, July 24, there will be a special event for children called KidzFest, with bounce houses, a petting zoo, and games, along with a special message from Will Graham.
“We truly believe this is going to be an awesome weekend, and we hope that everybody will make plans to come out for the celebration,” said Rogers.
Rogers said many people may recognize Will Graham from his last name because of his grandfather despite the fact he’s been holding evangelistic outreach programs since 2006.
Rogers said the younger Graham has “proclaimed the hope of Jesus” to more than one million people around the world during that time.
“Over the past year, as we’ve looked at postponements in Fairmont and in other cities. I’ve returned many times to Proverbs 19:21: ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand,’” said Will Graham.
Graham said God’s timing is perfect, and the coronavirus didn’t take Him by surprise.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Will for many years, and he’s just an awesome guy to be around. He’s a lot like his grandfather. He’s humble. He loves people and cares about them. He wants them to know that Jesus loves them too,” said Rogers.
Rogers said COVID definitely complicated things. The Mountain State Celebration was supposed to take place last April, but when the stay-home order was enacted, the event was postponed.
“It’s my prayer that the extra time has given the Christians in the area more time to pray and get their churches involved, and more time to invite friends and family to attend with them,” said Rogers.
When the in-person events were postponed in 2020, Rogers said, Will Graham pivoted into holding online events instead, which ended up being successful.
He has held seven livestream outreach events since the pandemic hit, with more than one million views from 78 countries around the world.
“Through those efforts, more than 4,500 people have registered a decision to follow Christ on our PeaceWithGod.net website,” said Rogers.
Mountain State Celebration was originally going to take place at the Feaster Center, but has since been moved to Duvall-Rosier Field to allow social distancing.
“Being outdoors gives us more fresh air, and also allows us more room for those that want to social distance. We’re definitely praying for good weather. We’d ask those who aren’t feeling well or are in a high-risk group to stay home. We’re planning to livestream the Celebration so those who don’t feel comfortable attending in person can watch online,” said Rogers.
Graham said with so many people now searching for hope, peace, and comfort, he believes God has something big in store for Fairmont and the surrounding region.
“Something beyond what we could ask or imagine,” said Graham.