Billy Graham Center

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The Archives Bulletin Board

November 2000: Television's Hour of Decision

Frame from the Hour of Decision's 1952 Thanksgiving broadcast
Collection 54, Film F29
Starting in 1957, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association began yearly broadcasts of services from Billy Graham evangelistic campaigns. But this was not the BGEA's first use of television. The Association's premier effort was the Hour of Decision television program, which went on the air in the summer of 1951 (not to be confused with the BGEA's radio program of the same name). It was generally shot in an indoor studio and usually included an introduction by Cliff Barrows, a solo by George Beverly Shea and a brief sermon by Billy Graham. Often there was a brief visit and a testimony from anyone from a U.S. congressman to the to the lead Japanese pilot in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. In many locales the half hour program was run right before or right after Youth on the March, the broadcast of Percy and Ruth Crawford, two more pioneers of religious television.

The program went off the air in 1954, but the experience gained would be put to good use when the 1957 live broadcasts from the New York Crusade began a tradition of special broadcasts of evangelistic services which has continued every since.

Click to go to the guide to Collection 54, which includes descriptions of films and videos of dozens of Hour of Decision television broadcasts between 1951 and 1954.

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Last Revised: 11/1/00
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