Local churches join Chicago Harvest outreach at Allstate Arena

Updated 2/8/2011 2:20 PM

For quite a while now, I've been noticing these black-gold-blue Greg Laurie bumper stickers on the roads advertising a "Chicago Harvest" from Friday through Sunday, Sept. 24-26. Seen 'em?

So here we are in September, and Greg Laurie: Chicago Harvest, a major evangelistic outreach evoking and contemporizing the Billy Graham crusades of years past, takes over Rosemont's Allstate Arena Friday.


Besides Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., the event will bring some A-list names in Christian music to Chicago.

More than 40 Northwest suburban churches and ministries are among 200 in the metropolitan area who have collaborated to support the event. Across denominations and ethnicities, churches have signed on to promote, contribute financially, pray, volunteer or be available for follow-up ministry.

A hundred people from Laurie's home church are traveling on their own dime to volunteer alongside the locals.

"Any opportunity to have a man of the spirit, who obviously has a gift of evangelism and brings many people into the kingdom, is a worthwhile cause," said the Rev. Elliott Anderson of Elgin Evangelical Free Church. "And I like the idea of many churches partnering together to promote, encourage and follow up."

Friday's program features live performances by the David Crowder Band and Heather Headley. On Saturday, Kirk Franklin and Skillet bring their music to the Allstate, and Sunday's audience will get to enjoy Steven Curtis Chapman and Jeremy Camp. The Katinas will be on stage all three nights.

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In addition to pastoring a megachurch, writing books such as Gold Medallion Award-winner "The Upside-Down Church," and hosting programs on TV and radio ("A New Beginning"), Laurie has been speaking at Harvest crusades for 20 years.

It was he who founded the outreach events, which have drawn more than 4.1 million people around the world to hear the Bible's message of hope in an entertaining and nonthreatening environment.

Laurie is the keynote speaker for the whole weekend, and Grammy Award-winner Chapman joins him Sunday night to tell how Jesus Christ brought his family hope in the midst of crisis. Both Laurie and Chapman lost children in automobile accidents two years ago.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with gates opening 90 minutes in advance. Spanish interpretation will be provided, as well as signing for the deaf. The event is free, but Allstate charges $20 for parking.

Can't make it? Check out the live webcasts at www.harvest.org.

• "In the Spirit" covers churches and synagogues in the Fox Valley area; contact cmchojnacki@yahoo.com.