a billy graham center archives exhibit
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The New York Crusade represented a new beginning not only for the multitudes who attended, but for Billy Graham and the BGEA.
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"Now, I'm an example. I'm a minister of evangelism. I never would have thought about being involved with evangelism. But I was trained to be a counselor [at the New York City Crusade] and night after night at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, Time....[he counseled inquirers] I was the head of an Air Pollution Research Team and five out of the six of us on that team were committed to Christ as a result of that. Five out of six of us are in the ministry. When I went to seminary, and they heard I was involved in the Graham crusade and involved in evangelism, I became the Chairman of Evangelism as a first year student at Fuller. That just launched me into the field of evangelism." Oral history interview with Rev. Lawrence Selig, 1993. From Collection 141, Box 62, Folder 18, Tape T623.


If Times Square was a church in the evening of September 1, it had returned to a city crossroads on the morning of September 2. What were the impact and results of the New York Crusade?

● One major impact from the BGEA crusades, often unnoticed, was the encouragement and empowerment of Christians who were not converted at the meetings, but were rather encouraged and empowered as individuals and congregations to witness for Jesus Christ in the world around them.

● The dispute between conservative American Christians about separating from the world, a debate that had long preceded the crusade, reached a kind of climax during it. Fundamentalism, at least in part, saw in Graham a preacher whose dangerous attractiveness weakened the true church by diluting its adherence to orthodoxy.

● For Evangelicals, the Crusade was a major step in gaining both self-confidence, empowerment, and acceptance as a significant national group, concerned not only to preach the Gospel of salvation through Christ, but to apply Christian belief to the life of the nation, even as Evangelicals often disagreed among themselves about what that meant.

● For Billy Graham, the crusade had been a joy and a challenge. More than forty years later, he said in his autobiography he never fully recovered physically from the challenge of 16 weeks of nearly non-stop preaching. It also brought the satisfaction of accepting and meeting the task God had given him and renewed confidence. The crusade probably also helped to solidify the national public image of Billy Graham. Because of his consistent concentration on a ministry of evangelism as well as continuing the highly visible championing of the Christian faith, he was now generally acknowledged as the unofficial leader of American Evangelical Protestants or at least their most important spokesperson. To the general public, both because of the publicity he had received and because of the almost universal testimony to his sincerity and financial honesty, he was perhaps the most recognized minister in the country and was regularly cited in polls as one of the country’s most admired men.

● For the BGEA, from this point on crusades were shorter, eventually less than a week, even as the experience of the crusade resulted in more elaborate planning procedures and outreach effort. The crusade services or at least edited versions of them also reached many more, since television was from now on a major part of almost every campaign.

The life of the city went on as before. Tens of thousands of people had made a commitment to Jesus Christ, to take Him as Savior or to rededicate their lives for him. Some quickly forgot their commitment, others could not turn from their old life or allowed their cares and worries to choke their new faith. For others this was a true turning point, the beginning of their new life. And through the impact of those lives on those around them, the effect of the crusade continued to ripple through the city and the world.

Click below for items on C0nclusion
item 108: from Collectioin 74, box 5, folder 1
item 107: from Collection 360, September 1957 file
item 110: from Collection 1, box 3, folder 5
Appreciation book
Newspaper clipping
Press release
item 119: from Collection 74, box 1, folder 28
item 105: from Collection 141, audio tape T91 and box 11, folder 31
item 109: from Small Collection 14
Churches newsletter
Eleanor McCollum
"Report to the Public"
© 2005 Wheaton College and © 2005 BGEA