Billy Graham Center

Interview of Beverly (Pannell) Yates - Collection 501

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions


An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Lists of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description
Interview with Yates in which she discussed her childhood in Michigan, family history, her brother (evangelist William Pannell), her conversion and spiritual growth, impact of B.M. Nottage on her life, work as a nurse, her ministry among women, Ruth Bentley, Melvin Banks, the black church in Chicago, the development of the Chicagoland Christian Women's Conference, and the Westside Holistic Center.

Collection 501
[December 1, 2000]
Yates, Beverly (Pannell); 1931-
Interview; 1994

3 Reels of Tape

Restrictions: Portions of tapes T2 and T3 are closed to researchers until 2075.


Full name: Beverly Pannell Yates

Birth date: 1931 in Sturgis, Michigan

Parents: William and Olive Gertrude (Davison) Pannell
Siblings: One brother, William; six half brothers and sisters by her mother's second marriage
Marital Status: Married Leroy L. Yates Sr. in December 1951
Children: Three girls and two boys

Conversion: At about the age of sixteen

ca. 1949 Graduated high school in Sturgis, Michigan
ca. 1950-1953 University of Illinois Hospital, Cook County School of Nursing
?-1984 Attended Moody Bible Institute (evening school)

1956- Coordinator of Women's Ministries in Westlawn Gospel Chapel of Chicago, a congregation she and her husband helped start
1961 Helped to found the Chicagoland Christian Women's Conference, for which she was a board member from the beginning and of which she served as president 1968-1970, 1979-1982,1986-1990. Program includes seminars, Bible studies, workshops and retreats for some 2000 women.
1968- University of Illinois Hospital, Critical Care Nursing
1975 to 1978 University of Illinois Hospital, Assistant Head Nurse, CTU
1979 to 1989 Food Service Director, Circle Y Ranch Bangor, Michigan. She and her husband helped start the camp, which was intended to provide an outdoor Christian experience for black inner city youth
1980- Board member of Westside Holistic Family Services (also served as vice President 1985-1987 and chairman, Personnel Committee 1990-?

Other significant information: Frequent speaker and teacher at Christian conferences and workshops in the Chicago area. Author of magazine articles and Heart Health for Black Women: A Natural Approach to Healing and Preventing Heart Disease (2000); contributed to Women's Ministry Handbook, ed. Carol Porter (1992)

Scope and Content

Beverly Yates was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on May 16, 1994. The events described in the interview cover the time period ca. 1941-1994.

T1 ( 65 minutes). Family background; memories of Sturgis, Michigan, and family life; the Pannell house as a place where African Americans could stay; early Christian influences; brother Bill's involvement with the Missionary Church; importance of Henry and Leona Bunch and Mildred Branford to the family; mother's illness and death from tuberculous and its effect on the family; Bill Pannell's influence on his brothers and sisters, family background on mother's side; advantages of growing up in a small town; relationship with her brother Bill; memories of her grandparents; racial attitudes in Sturgis during her childhood; activities as a child; new tensions during teenage years; code of conduct expected by the Sturgis Gospel Hall (Plymouth Brethren) congregation; Beverly's becomes the "mother" of the family after her mother's death; decision to be a nurse; move to Chicago to live with her father; the conversion of her father; the importance of teaching little children the gospel; a sermon by B. M. Nottage; her internal struggles before her conversion and after; seeking God's will for herself; meeting her future husband Leroy Yates in 1948; his formal Catholicism; her efforts to lead him to Christ; his conversion while he was in the Army; her difficult decision not to marry him while he was unsaved; influence of her friends in the Nurses Christian Fellowship; marriage in December 1951; his spiritual growth while serving in Korea; more on her decision not to marry an unsaved man; B. M. Nottage's influence on her and the congregation he started at 64th and Drexel in Chicago (Southside Gospel Assembly)

T2 ( 68 minutes). Importance of small groups in her spiritual life at this time; comments on her career as a nurse; Leroy's return in 1954 and his dual training in microbiology during the day and at Moody Bible Institute during the evening; the transfer of church buildings from white to black congregations in Chicago at this time; the Yates' and others move to help start the Westlawn Gospel Chapel in 1956; description of the steps in building a congregation in the area; Beverly's loneliness during the early days of starting the church; development of a women's fellowship at the church and Yvonne Rollerson Abatso; the development of the Chicagoland Christian Women's Conference (CCWC) ca. 1961; Sister Francis Bietthuis and the radio program Woman to Woman; purpose of the conference and the development of women leaders; Beverly's leadership and attendance at Moody for further Bible training; development of other women's conferences; the influence of B. M. Nottage; the nondenominational aspects of the CCWC; attitude in the conference toward the ordination of women; positive attitudes of Chicago pastors toward the conference; topics covered during meetings; the importance of salvation; the need for black Christian women to have a response to violence in their communities; contacts with similar white Christian women's fellowships; the place of evangelism at the conferences; reasons for the difficulty in getting a men's conference started; description of her leadership in the conference during the civil rights struggle in the late 1960s; the culture shock within the group over Afrocentric clothes and hairstyles; concentration on building up the black Christian community as opposed to building bridges to white Evangelical groups; Beverly's leadership style; establishing a home for unwed mothers and other plans; Ruth Bentley of the National Black Evangelical Association; Leroy's attitude toward her involvement in the women's conference; attitude of the Brethren Assemblies toward the woman's conference; Melvin Banks

T3 ( 45 minutes). Influence of her ministry on her parenting and family and visa versa; Cedine Bible Mission in Tennessee; difficulties their children went through; founding the Circle Y Ranch in Bangor, Michigan, for black children with Jim Humphry in 1964; Leroy's going full-time into ministry in 1978; Beverly's work as head of the Circle Y kitchen; reflections on camping ministry as means of helping children come to know the Lord; support of black churches for the ranch; Leroy's appointment as pastor of the Westlawn Gospel Chapel; differences between black and white Brethren Assemblies congregations; controversies within the Brethren Assemblies over having full-time clergy; Beverly's deepening understanding of the strengths of the black church and its desire for the Bible; the sin of the separation of the black and white churches; the strong family bond in the black community; her attitude toward writing and speaking; the working of the Lord in her life and others; Millicent Lindo and the Westside Holistic Center of Chicago - its counseling work and other ministries in the black community.


The materials in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by Beverly Yates in May 1994.

Accession: 94-45

September 5, 2000
Robert Shuster

Revised: December 1, 2000
Robert Shuster


Accession: 94-45

Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the Audio Tape file.

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 65 minutes, one side only. Interview of Beverly Yates by Paul Ericksen on May 16, 1994, at the Billy Graham Center Archives.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 68 minutes, one side only. Continuation of interview of Beverly Yates by Paul Ericksen on May 16, 1994, at the Billy Graham Center Archives.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 45 minutes, one side only. Conclusion of interview of Beverly Yates by Paul Ericksen on May 16, 1994, at the Billy Graham Center Archives.

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Last Revised: 12/1/00
Expiration: indefinite