The year was 1997 nearly 50-thousand men from all over the state poured into Bulldog Stadium in Fresno to learn how to make and "keep" promises to their wives and their children. Promise Keepers began in Colorado in the early 90's as a Christian men's movement. Nationally known pastors and Christian leaders would take the podium and challenge men to become leaders in their homes and in their communities.
Fast-forward ten years and the venue is smaller Savemart Arena will probably host just a few thousand men this year.
H. Spees: "The reason that the crowd is a little small is that Promise Keepers has been overly successful."
H. Spees, a long time Fresno pastor now involved with Inner City Ministry says Fresno along with other cities nationwide is seeing the results of men becoming Promise Keepers.
H. Spees: "Promise Keepers called men to be committed to their wives, committed to their kids, committed to their city - in terms of radical engagement with the poor - and committed to racial reconciliation. It was in its time an incredible innovation. "
Pastor Jim Franklin of Fresno's Cornerstone Church says men who have attended Promise Keepers conferences over the years have helped expand the ministry's vision.
Pastor Jim Franklin: "Now there are several other national men's ministries that have grown out of that. We have equipped the local church to be able to provide those types of services, so now it's not that people have stopped eating Mexican food, there are just more Mexican food restaurants to be able to go to. "
A total of eight cities across the country will host Promise Keepers conferences this year. Fresno is the first.
The conference gets underway at the Savemart Center Friday night. Tickets are 75 dollars.