Promise Keepers seeks to expand ministry

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 6, 2000
By Thomas Hargrove

The Promise Keepers organization is trying to expand its conservative Christian ministry to America's men beyond stadium rallies and into more permanent partnerships with mainstream churches and other religious organizations.

''It's all about fulfilling the Great Commission,'' said the Rev. Michael Spottsville, a vice president of the Denver-based ministry. ''Finally and thankfully, we are seeking Christ-centered churches and ministries to network their efforts to reach and equip men who will, in turn, be able to win their cities for Jesus Christ.''

Spottsville directs the group's new ''Strategic Alliance'' program, which asks churches to form new partnerships with the group.

Promise Keepers celebrated its 10th anniversary last month by announcing an ambitious schedule of rallies in 16 cities this summer and early fall --- the group will meet at Philips Arena in Atlanta Oct. 27-28 --- as part of its ''Go the Distance'' campaign to get men to commit themselves to God and to their families.

The organization has become famous for staging rallies involving thousands of men --- gatherings often held in football, baseball or basketball stadiums.

Women's rights groups have criticized the Promise Keepers stance that the man should be the family's dominant force. However, feminists have praised the organization's insistence that men must assiduously help in raising and supporting their children.

The rallies this year each will last for two days. Friday sessions will feature testimonies from men whose lives were changed through religious commitment, and Saturday gatherings will concentrate upon the relationships between fathers and their children.

''Men are going to have to decide where they stand on the vital issues of life like their commitments to their faith and their families,'' group founder and President Bill McCartney has said.

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