a billy graham center archives exhibit
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Starting sixteen months before the first service, every aspect of the meetings were planned and organized.
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"Months of hard work in preparation have gone before this opening meeting of the New York Crusade. Tonight’s meeting represents the culmination of the work of nearly 8,000 Committee workers, and staff members, in addition to thousands of prayer partners, not only here in New York. But across America and around the world..." First lines from the article “Welcome to the New York Crusade and Madison Sq. Garden” on page 1 of the New York Crusade News, May 15, 1957. From Collection 16, New York Procedure Book IV.

 Once the invitation was accepted, the organization of the crusade began in earnest, led by BGEA staff members Jerry Beaven, Willis Haymaker, Leighton Ford, and Charlie Riggs. In the first part of 1956, Graham himself was much more deeply involved in organization than he had ever been for previous crusades. A large, general crusade committee was created that contained ministers and laity and which served an advisory function. The much smaller executive committee actually directed the crusade, under the guidance of BGEA staff and was incorporated as a separate entity, one which was also responsible for the Crusade funds, which eventually totaled over two million dollars. All money was accounted for by a professional audit at the end of 1957 and surpluses went to the Protestant Council and for the televising of future BGEA crusades.

The staff drew on procedures that they had developed from past crusades adapted to the new campaign, as well as the experience of more than a century and a half of American mass evangelism. At the heart of the organization plan was the effort to involve multitudes of New York churches to pray, recruit workers, encourage attendance and to provide a congregational home for inquirers after the crusade was over. Special newsletters were prepared for churches to include in their bulletins and letters with updates about plans for the crusade regularly went out to pastors, ushers, choir members, counselors, members of the various crusade committees. All of these groups also had several meetings in which, besides instruction in their particular tasks, they also met given updates on crusade events and were encouraged to make their best effort.

Intensive efforts were also made to encourage churches, institutions and groups of interested laity to make group reservations, reserving blocks for seats for specific nights. Most reservations were from organizations in or near the city, but many were for groups that came by the train load or the bus load from as far away as Tennessee.

Click below for items on Organization
item 29: from Collection 16, 1957 New York Crusade procedure book II
item 30: fomr Collection 1, box 2, folder 19
item 31: from Photo File BGEA New York City Crusade, 1957
Planning pamphlet
Progress report
Crusade office photo
item 32: from Collection 1, box 1, folder 46
item 33: from Collection 300, box 130, folder 11
Organization chart
Program for students
© 2005 Wheaton College and © 2005 BGEA