Billy Graham Center

Interview of David P. Bruce - Collection 671

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Title Page and Restrictions

Brief Description of This Collection


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

Lists of Artifacts, Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

    Audio Tapes

Collection 671                                                                                                            [May 1, 2014]
Bruce, David P., 1952-
Interview; 2013
Audio Recording (.1 cubic foot)

Restrictions: None

Brief Description. Oral history interview of Bruce, in which he discusses the history of the Montreat office of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) that functioned as the personal secretariat of Billy Graham; the relationship of the office to the rest of the BGEA; Bruce’s own background and his work as assistant to Graham; L. Nelson Bell and other BGEA leaders (T. W. Wilson, Stephanie Wills, John Akers, Charlie Riggs, Sterling Huston, and John Corts); effects on the Montreat office of the move of the BGEA main headquarters from Minneapolis to Charlotte.

A transcript for this interview is available on site in the Archives Reading Room.


Full name

 David Phillips Bruce


1952, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA



Marital Status

Married Kerri L. Erb in 1986


At the age of eight, in the Baptist church where his father was pastor


As a minister of the Southern Baptist Convention




BA from Wake Forest University, with a joint major in Sociology and Psychology



Master in Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky



D.Min from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary




Youth ministry work during the summers



Youth minister at First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina



Associate pastor, Cliff Temple , Dallas, Texas, USA



Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Henderson, Kentucky, USA



Internship with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association



Pastor, Riverside Baptist Church, Denver, Colorado, USA



Joined BGEA as assistant crusade director, working on various North American and international crusades



Special assistant to Billy Graham, later executive assistant, based in Montreat, North Carolina



Pastor, First Baptist Church, Weston, Florida

Other significant information



Father was a Baptist minister



Elected to the Board of Directors of the BGEA

Scope and Content

David P. Bruce was interviewed by Robert Shuster on June 11, 2013, at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1952-2013.                                                                                                                       

T1 ( 124 minutes). Introduction, prehistory of the BGEA’s Montreat office, the move of the Bell family to Montreat after leaving China, the move of Billy and Ruth Graham to Montreat; the first office on the second floor of the Mission House; the purchase of the nearby home of the two sisters that became the core of the Montreat office; the functions of the office as a personal secretariat for Graham; Dr. L. Nelson Bell’s function as a spiritual advisor; T. W. Wilson’s function as manager of the office and chief assistant; description of Wilson’s strengths; the importance of the local church; Graham’s administrative style as chief executive of the BGEA; the contribution of Luverne Gustafson and the secretarial staff; the importance of communications in the management of Graham’s work; the extensive files of the Montreat office; description of Graham’s method of sermon preparation; the importance of spiritual preparation; Ruth Graham’s role in his ministry as spiritual advisor and Bible student; the work of Robert Ferm as research assistant and his work with pastors; Lois Ferm’s work as librarian and oral history interviewer; other people on the staff; the efforts of Stephanie Wills and the secretarial staff to provide a cross reference access to Graham’s sermons; John Akers role as a researcher, briefing expert, and someone who helped prepare the trips abroad, such as those to the Vatican, Russia and China; relationship of the Montreat office to the rest of the BGEA; Graham as the chief executive office rather than the chief operating officer of the BGEA; comments about the Grahams and the town of Montreat, the Montreat Conference Center, and Montreat College; Calvin Thielman; Bruce’s childhood in North Carolina; his conversion at 8; education; his ministry as a youth pastor and senior pastor; internship with the BGEA beginning in 1982; the importance of the local church in Graham’s crusade ministry; studying the follow-up method after a BGEA evangelistic campaign and Graham’s emphasis on follow-up; joining the BGEA in 1991 to work in domestic and international crusades; meeting his wife Kerri Erb when she was working on crusade staff; becoming an assistant to Graham in 1991; supporting T. W. Wilson and Graham as they aged; the growing responsibilities of David and Kerri Bruce in the Montreat office; assuming Wilson’s responsibilities in the BGEA the Blue Ridge Broadcasting association; description of Charlie Riggs, Sterling Houston and John Corts as BGEA executives; the importance of BGEA’s historical files as a resource for the church; the continuing support for Graham from the Montreat office.


The materials in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by David P. Bruce in June, 2013.

Accession: 13-18
April 17, 2014
Bob Shuster
P. Bartow

Accession: 13-18
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE file. Item# - Format, speed, length in minutes, number of sides, contents (title of session, participants) according to the program, date.








124 min

Oral history interview of David P. Bruce by Robert Shuster

June 11, 2013

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