Poplar Bluff man hopes to organize religious Woodstock

Friday, February 12, 2010
Jerry Murphy is attempting to plan Wilderness Outcry, a large-scale religious event, on his acreage in Butler County. (Daily American Republic/submitted photo)

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Woodstock marked a retreat from Judeo-Christian values in American culture, according to a local cattle rancher and businessman who is organizing an event he hopes will be of a similar magnitude but opposite effect.

Jerry Murphy has linked up with a group of ministries from throughout the country to host an outdoor gathering called Wilderness Outcry from June 14 to 18. It is slated to be held on more than 400 acres he farms along Butler County Road 543.

"There is a dual purpose and that is God and country, and bringing the two back together," said Murphy, chief financial officer of Gamma HealthCare. "We're saying to America, 'Bring the generations, young and old,' and let's send a message for God to have mercy on this land."

Murphy has been planning the event since fall. He has hired two full-time workers to help prepare the land and has contracted a large-scale event planning firm.

"We are trying to provide a clean, safe environment," Murphy said. At least two landing areas for Air Evac are being created, an alternative route for emergency vehicles is being explored and security will be brought in, he added.

The five-day event will feature gospel music. No high-profile speakers have been confirmed in writing as of now, Murphy said, although he is working on booking some.

"We want people to do some praying, fasting and leave their cell phones behind for a week," Murphy said. "After we are done consecrating ourselves, everyone will pick up a stone, write a memorial to God on it and leave behind a stonewall altar."

Murphy said the "mindset of free love, drugs and rock 'n' roll" never left after Woodstock in 1969 and he believes that Christianity needs to be integrated into the "seven spheres of influence in society," which he said are home, church, government, business, education, media and arts.

"It is most interesting to consider that Woodstock took place in Bethel, New York, which is biblical, because in Scripture, the devil tried to steal God's dream at a place called Bethel," Murphy said. "God restores his dream at Moriah, which has always been the name of my ranch."

At 15 years old, Murphy said, he can remember helping the former property owner of Moriah Ranch pick some hay, and in return for his services, the teenager was entrusted a key to the gate. Murphy would hunt the rolling hills, fish in the creek and go swimming, he recalled.

About 20 years ago, Murphy said he had noticed a section of the property was being auctioned off, and he bought it. In 1991, he built his home there.

"I had always had the impression through prayer that something big was going to happen on this land," Murphy said.

Murphy began his own ministry called Marketplace Champions in 2000. In recent months, he has been traveling to major cities spreading the word about the event with the Awakening and Reformation Tour. He said his movement has gone viral on the Web with help of social networking sites such as Facebook, GroundMap and Twitter.

Wilderness Outcry will be free admission, though Murphy said it remains undetermined whether there will be a charge for camping to help recover the cost. Donations are being solicited.

Registration for the event goes live March 1 through www.wildernessoutcry.com.

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