For the first time ever, Promise Keepers is opening the door to women for its 20th anniversary event in Boulder, Colo.
The evangelical men's organization, which has drawn more than 5.5 million men to its conferences since 1990, is inviting wives, daughters, mothers and sisters to the July 31-Aug. 1 "A Time to Honor" event at Folsom Field at the University of Colorado.
"We expect men to invite thousands of women to 'A Time to Honor.' This will be powerful," said Bill McCartney, who was recently called back to lead Promise Keepers as chairman. "We want to honor women in a profound way at this event."
"We need to rally around women and raise the bar for what it is to be virtuous," he stated, noting that many teen girls are having sex outside of marriage. "The next generation must have a true model for womanhood."
The anniversary conference is the only planned event for Promise Keepers this year and the first major event since McCartney returned to the helm of the ministry in September.
Promise Keepers has typically held numerous events across the country throughout the year, drawing tens of thousands of men. But with declining attendance and revenues, the ministry scaled down the number of stadium-size events in recent years and began hosting smaller local church events.
Following that move, McCartney, who founded Promise Keepers, was brought out of retirement and announced as the new CEO and chairman, replacing Dr. Tom Fortson, who resigned the week before.
"I'm deeply honored to have been called to Promise Keepers," McCartney says in a video promoting the upcoming conference. "The time is right."
Plans for the ministry under the new leadership were not outlined until Monday's announcement about the anniversary celebration. The July event will also serve as the springboard for the "re-launch" of Promise Keepers, according to McCartney.
"I'm excited to let you know that God has called PK on an extraordinary journey of change in 2009," McCartney said in a statement. "I believe we'll see the beginnings of the greatest move of God in our lifetimes – a move God showed me recently after a five year pursuit to learn his will. It has brought me back to PK."
In addition to celebrating 20 years and honoring women, this year's day-and-a-half conference will serve to honor the Jewish heritage of the Christian faith and to catalyze men to serve the poor, the oppressed and needy through their local church.
Speakers include Jane Hansen Hoyt, president and CEO of Aglow International; Dr. Tony Evans of Dallas, Texas; relationship expert Gary Smalley of Branson, Mo.; Rabbi Jonathan Bernis; and Rabbi David Chernoff, among others.
Promise Keepers president Raleigh Washington told The Associated Press that the multi-city format will return next year.