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Putting on a revival takes lots of work
Church members say the results are worth the labor
Worshipers listen to the choir sing during revival Wednesday night at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Gainesville.

fIt took 75 volunteers, 12 subcommittees, about six months and one evangelist to pull off the annual spring revival at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.

In many churches, there is a tradition of hosting an annual revival. This means engaging the help of church members to organize it and get other members and local residents motivated for the event.

At Pleasant Hill their spring revival also involved having a guest evangelist. The idea is to light a spark within the church community and reach out to others who might be interested in the special services.

The spring revival at Pleasant Hill featured guest evangelist Morris Anderson from Tennessee and ran from Sunday to Wednesday. Anderson has served as an evangelist for many years and has preached more than 500 revivals in 36 states, according to his Web site.

"It was just a few people who came together as a mass of believers to ignite the community," said Dave Rashche, a committee member for the revival. "I guess the Holy Spirit really got us going. ... We invited the community to come in and see how God changes lives and he did. That was the main emphasis - was trying to reach out to the community and have people come to know Christ as their Savior."

Rashche added that about 20 people "accepted Jesus Christ as their savior."

Added Mike Garner, chairman of the deacons at Pleasant Hill, "I think of a revival as a whole. People look at how many salvations you have, but revival itself is about the church being refreshed, seeing the excitement level return. ... It's not what happens in the three or four days but in the months to follow."

According to the Rev. Gerald Atkins during an interview with The Times in March, the spring revival took an unexpected turn during the planning process. The church already had been preparing for a crusade with Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham - but he had to cancel.

So, rather than scrap their efforts, members decided to turn their efforts toward a church-wide revival.

"We had a great committee that was put together actually in the beginning when Franklin Graham was going to be in North Georgia for the fall," said Rashche, who has been a member at the church for 15 years. "The pastor put a committee together to be a part of that festival or revival that he was going to have, so we kind of maintained the same kind of team structure as we were going to do for the Franklin Graham crusade."

The committee comprised about 12 people, including Rashche, prayer director Barbara Smith, the director of children's ministries, the director of youth ministries and the head of the men's brotherhood group. And from that committee, he said, members broke off into subcommittees to get specific tasks done.

To get the revival moving along, about 75 church members helped with the planning, preparations and cooking for the four-night event.

"I feel that when you look at how this came about, David Rashche was very key as far as putting things in place," Garner said. "But every member of this church has been praying for revival for a long time. ... It was a total effort and everyone is reaping the benefits this week."

Rashche called the revival a success.

"I guess we were blessed more than we deserve to be in terms of a guest being there and having almost a full house every service," he said. "We had a target of high attendance Sunday to be 400 and then about 300 during the week and we ended up with about 325 on Sunday, I think, and then about averaged about 280 during the week."

In preparation for the revival, church members had been praying for months for a large turnout from the community. Brochures were printed, flyers were sent out and more than 1,000 students were invited for youth night.

"It was incredible is best word I can use to describe it," Garner said. "The energy, the electricity, it was wonderful and the church was probably near capacity every night."

But it's not just important for the people to come, Garner added. There's one more piece of the puzzle that everyone hopes to find at a revival, no matter the size.

"The most important part is that God showed up. ... He's responsible for everything."

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