Franklin Graham Festival Draws 46,000 in Tenn.

Nearly 46,000 people attended the Franklin Graham festival in east Tennessee this past weekend where attendees heard a serious message about salvation.

"We live in the South where it's culturally accepted to go to church, and many people go to church believing that they're saved, they're forgiven, and they're going to go to heaven," said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, according to BGEA.

"But for many there's something missing because they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," he warned. "The choice you make tonight is going to decide where you spend eternity."

During the three-day event, 1,207 people responded to Graham's invitation to make a commitment to Jesus Christ.

On Saturday, more than 183 children responded to the call to follow Christ among the 6,196 children that attended the KidzFest program.

The Franklin Graham Fest, April 25-27, took place in the basketball arena at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Knoxville's mayor Bill Haslam welcomed the East Tennessee Franklin Graham Festival on Friday night.

"If we're going to have the kind of city we want we can do that by creating businesses here and revitalizing downtown and all sorts of great things, but the main way to build the kind of city we want is to change hearts," Haslam told the audience.

The Festival brought together thousands of volunteers and 478 churches across denominational lines to work in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to organize and plan for the event.

In addition to the message, the festival also featured music by award-winning artists, including Toby Mac, Israel Houghton & New Breed, Group 1 Crew, Michael W. Smith, Austins Bridge, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Phil Stacey, Tommy Coomes Band, Dennis Agajanian, and a 1,500-voice choir made up of volunteers from churches across the region.

Earlier this month, Graham held his first Festival of 2008 in Belfast, North Ireland. The Festival was the largest evangelistic event in the area in nearly 50 years.

Upcoming events this year will be held in Villahermosa, Mexico (June 6-8); Timisoara, Romania (July 4-6); Charleston, S.C. (Sept. 19-21); and Taipei, Taiwan (Oct. 30-Nov. 2).

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