|TOTAL ATTENDANCE AT BILLY GRAHAM NEW YORK CRUSADE MORE THAN TWO MILLION; FUTURE PLANS CALL FOR INTENSIVE FOLLOW-UP PROGRAM IN OCTOBER
New York City, September 3 -- SPECIAL -- When Evangelist Billy Graham stepped out of the pulpit at the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street at Times Square on Sunday evening, September 1, to hear a local minister pronounce the benediction at the farewell meeting of the Crusade, he had preached in exactly 100 regularly scheduled Crusade meetings in 16 weeks, the longest Crusade in his experience. Of those 100 meetings, 97 had been held in Madison Square Garden, where 1,687,600 persons had been in attendance -- an all time record both for Billy Graham Crusades and for Madison Square Garden.
The three other regular meetings had been held out of doors, one at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, one at Yankee Stadium, and the final one at Times Square. Their combined attendance of 239,500; plus the attendance at special Crusade rallies in Brooklyn, Central Park, Harlem and Wall Street, raised the total attendance for the Crusade to 2,019,100. In addition to this figure were 36,100 persons who stood in the street outside Madison Square Garden for special overflow services conducted by Mr. Graham.
Not alone in total attendance was evangelistic history written during the New York Crusade. The recorded decisions for Christ those inquirers who responded to the invitation each evening, and who were counselled and entered into the -up work of the Crusade -- totalled 56,767. (Not follow included are those who signified their decision at the Times Square meeting, and who will receive counselling help by mail).
The original planned closing date was June 30, but the Crusade was extended three times. On Monday, June 3, the Executive Committee voted the first extension, through July 20, on the basis of the great interest which had been shown during the early weeks. The second extension was decided on the day before the Yankee Stadium rally, and announced immediately to the Press. At that time, August 10 was set as the closing date. On Saturday night, August 3, the final extension was announced and the meetings closed in Madison Square Garden on August 31, with a Farewell Rally in Times Square on Sunday evening, September 1.
Coast-to-Coast Television: Each Saturday night beginning on June 1, the regular service from Madison Square Garden was televised for one hour on a coast-to-coast basis over the ABC-TV network. Program rating research figures indicated that the weekly viewing audience approximated some 10 million persons, although admittedly the survey facilities are not complete during the summer months. The mail response to the television presentation of the Crusade meetings averaged approximately 75,000 letters per week from individuals who were writing to ask for spiritual guidance, or to say that they had accepted Christ as Savior. By the end of the Crusade there were more than 35,000 who had acknowledged their salvation through the TV programs. The network television was an innovation for Graham Crusades, but plans are underway for a similar presentation from the Crusade in San Francisco in April, 1958.
Yankee Stadium Meeting: This meeting on July 20 was to mark the end of the Crusade after its first extension past the June 30 closing date. Despite 93 degree temperature, the stands filled quickly, and long before the start of the meeting the Stadium officials allowed the crowd to surge out across the outfield area. When the size of the crowd forced the gates to be locked, 100,000 persons were in the stands and standing on the playing field, the largest attendance for any event in the history of the Yankee Stadium.
Times Square Meeting: The closing meeting on September 1 took the Crusade directly to the heart of New York City "the Crossroads of the World" -- Broadway and 42nd Street at Times Square. Figures as to the size of the crowd varied greatly; for the first time in the Team's experience the local Police attempted to alter drastically the reports as to the size of the crowd. Newspaper reporters, radio and television men and newsreel cameramen who were assigned to the meeting reported the attendance as 200,000. Learning of this report, the Police Inspector in charge set a figure of 75,000 and refused to alter his guess, even when presented with actual measurements of the square feet of street area involved. The Team's figures, based on those actual measurements, as well as upon their experience in dealing with other large crowds, placed the figure at just over 125,000 the largest crowd ever to attend a Billy Graham meeting. The significance of the Times Square meeting was not in the actual attendance, but in its impact upon the nation and the world for from the spot usually identified by drunken revelry on New Years Eve, the Gospel was uncompromisingly proclaimed to the thousands in attendance, and to the millions who watched a nation-wide telecast over the ABC network.
"Impact" TV Program: Each night at 11:30 p.m. a Crusade TV program called "Impact'? was presented over a local station. At the conclusion of the program, viewers needing spiritual help were invited to phone the Crusade office, where 14 counsellors were on duty at 14 consecutive telephone lines. Literally thousands of calls were received, the counsellors often remaining at the phones until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Actual decisions for Christ through the telephone interviews totalled 566. The program had particular significance at the midnight hour, and many stories were told of individuals saved from suicide, divorce etc.
Teen Week: Facing New York’s serious teen age problem, the Crusade set aside one week as "Teen Week" with every sermon directed to youth, and special features highlighting every meeting. During that week alone more than 4,000 decisions for Christ were recorded; just over half of them in the 12-18 age group. Team members agreed that Teen Week was a definite high-spot of the entire Crusade.
Special Meetings: The special meetings of the New York Crusade represented perhaps the deepest work of the entire effort. They included not only the large outdoor meetings in Brooklyn (40,000), Harlem (5,000), Wall Street (30,000), and Central Park (9,000), but also literally scores of smaller meetings in homes and other meeting places where Bible classes have been started. Among those taking an active part are some of the highest social and business leaders of the area. TIKE magazine quoted Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney as saying: "I think the after effects of this Crusade will be extraordinary; the beginning of a reawakening.11 Some 200 professional actors and actresses from the stage, motion pictures, radio and television who made their decisions for Christ during the Crusade, have formed a Bible study group with Metropolitan Opera bass Jerome Hines as president. Special breakfasts, luncheons and dinners attracted other large groups during the Crusade, and several Team members will remain in New York until the first of the year to encourage active participation in the follow-up program.
Ministers' Workshops: The most extensive effort to coordinate the work of local clergymen into an active and continuing evangelistic program was undertaken in the series of Ministers' Workshops on Evangelism. Leaders in various fields were brought to New York to meet with area ministers in a six week series, with meetings scheduled twice daily for four days each week. Speakers at the various Workshop meetings were Dr David Cowie, of Seattle; Dr. Robert Munger, of Berkeley; Rev. Tom Allan, of Glasgow, Scotland; and Rev. John Stott, Rev. Stephen Olford and Rev. Joseph Blinco, all of London, England. Billy Graham addressed the ministers on two occasions, and will return to New York for a ministers breakfast on September 24.
The comments concerning the Crusade, and evaluations of it by ministers and laymen could well fill a book. As indicated by the comments which follow, it is evident that the Crusade made a profound impact upon New York City, in every area of life.
Rev. Dan Potter
Protestant Council of the City of New York
"The response is many thousands more than I dreamed possible. After talking with hundreds of them, I am convinced that their lives are changed, and for many of them, their lives have never been so genuinely or enthusiastically dedicated to Christ and His church. Added to the above are thousands who have responded to TV. I feel that the Crusade has gone beyond our objectives in winning thousands to Christ outside the metropolitan area.
There has never been'a time in the history of the Protestant Council that there has been more God-consciousness in this city. It is almost as easy to talk about Billy Graham and the Spirit of God as it is the weather.
American Tract Society
21 West 46th Street
New York 361 N.Y.
"Apart from the thrill of seeing thousands of inquirers pass through the Counselling room where it was my pleasure to have a very small part, the joy of praying with new converts from all walks of life shall remain with me always. Equally as thrilling, however, was to observe the spiritual growth in passive Christians who now have fully accepted the challenge of our Saviour before He ascended into glory; Acts 1:8 "Ye shall be witnesses me". It will be fully a decade before the full impact shall be known."
Gayle J. Lathrop
Executive Vice President
Y.M.C.A., 420 Lexington Avenue
New York 17, N.Y.
"I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Graham on several occasions. He gave himself unstintingly during the sixteen weeks of the New York City Crusade. God used him to touch helpfully the lives of thousands of our citizens. I am sure that the laymen and pastors of many struggling Protestant churches and agencies like the YMCA in the metropolitan area will find a more favorable climate in which to work. More lay people will be available to help if we have the vision, courage and faith to relate them to significant and relevant tasks."
Daniel A. Poling
Chairman atid Editor
Christian Herald Magazine
New York 16, N.Y.
"Never before has New York City experienced anything approaching the Billy Graham New York Crusade in the authority of its impact upon this vast community. No area of our life has been immune to the Crusade's influence and every segment of the City has been moved.
Now it remains for the cooperating churches -- more than 1700 of them -- to carry out the follow-up program that, with care and Christian statesmanship, has been planned for more than two-years ahead. I know of one congregation in Manhattan that, during the first half of the Crusade, received more than 500 cards. To bring these thousands of new converts into the Church, to nurture and train them for their Christian testimony and service is at once the supreme obligation and opportunity of our faith.
In the broad area of community crisis, Billy Graham's contribution to the solution of the immediate problem of so-called teen-age delinquency and crime has been gratefully recognized and received not only by the churches but by the City government.
Here is a man who with his entire team is filled with the passion and purpose of his evangelical faith an open channel for the Holy Spirit."
John W. Bradbury, Editor
New York 10, N.Y.
"As one among many who prayed over the years for the evangelization of New York City I am filled with thank- fulness to God for the Billy Graham Crusade. It is the answer we sought. New York has been moved Godward. The effect of this campaign will be far-reaching. Many churches have now evangelical fervor they did not manifest effectively before. The cause of evangelism, as the emphasis upon salvation for the people, is alive in this City to a degree unequalled in more than a generation. Scores of thousands of people needing Christ Jesus as Savior have responded. I feel that God has granted New York a token of His mercy, using Billy Graham and his loyal team to lead this great Metropolis to, at least, consider its duty to God.”
Rev. David J. Fant
New York Bible Society
New York 17, N.Y.
"For the past thirty-seven years it has been my privilege to minister in New York City as pastor of three churches religious editor and publisher, and now General Secretary of the New York Bible Society. From my watchtower I have viewed the Billy Graham Crusade as the biggest thing for the Protestant Christian cause that has struck our city during that long period-of time. In the midst of materialism, worldliness crime and spiritual indifference it has descended upon us like a fresh breeze from heaven. Its benefits have been many: the winning of thousands to Christ; the witness of evangelical Christianity in a city that is largely Catholic, Jewish and unchurched; and importantly, the uniting of the Protestant churches of our city in the primary mission of the Church - the winning of men and women to Christ.”
The Hon. Charles H. Tuttle
Breed, Abbott & Morgan
15 Broad Street
New York 5, N.Y.
“No human analysis can exhaust or measure the full meanings o f the stupendous religious phenomenon which the city of New York has just witnessed. Here has been indisputable proof before the eyes of all that two thousand years have not lessened the victorious and redemptive power of the Gospel Story, faithfully told with all its own directness simplicity and authority. go told the people, as we have just witnessed, always I hear it gladly."
Dr. John A. Mackay
Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton New Jersey
"I have greatly rejoiced in the response of the public to -,-,-he ministry of Billy Graham in New York City. I have been equally impressed by the Christ centered message of the evangelist. Jesus Christ has been set forth as the Saviour from sin and the Lord of life. He has been presented in-such a way as to transcend ecclesiastical division, racial barriers and the refinements of theological formulation. Men and women have been brought face to face with the Person in whom God revealed His love and power to mankind, and to whom as the crucified and Risen Christ they should commit their lives; for it is Christ alone who can change life. Graham's ministry has also been prophetic. Men have been made aware of the sins of the heart and of society.
As for the evangelist himself, I have the profoundest faith in God's servant Billy Graham not only as regards the quality of his personal Christian character, but also as regards his view of the essential mission which God has committed to him. For that reason I give my unqualified support to the work in which he is engaged."
Rev. Brandt Reed
High School Evangelism Fellowship
Park Row, New York, N.Y.
"The Billy Graham Crusade came as an answer to many years of prayer for this great pagan city of New York. It seemed as though Billy Graham were a channel through which God's message of salvation was brought down to the people in the streets of the city, and by it the Metropolitan area was made aware of the existence of the true and living God.
"The response among the High School age young people was, of course of great help in our work with these youngsters and was an answer to much prayer. The Crusade was also a source of great spiritual refreshment to me personally and to all who worked in the Counselling room from night to night. Engaging in the Follow-up later has made us see what a complete work has been wrought in such a high percentage of those who made decisions for Christ."
The future plans for the Billy Graham Team include at least two return visits to New York City in the Fall of this year. On September 24, Mr. Graham will speak at a breakfast for all area ministers, in an attempt to summarize the results to date of the Crusade, and to outline the follow-up program for the future.
Following that meeting, the Team will engage in a week of evangelistic rallies in communities on the outskirts of New York; in New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut.
During the week of October 20 - 27, the Team will be sharing in the Visitation Evangelism Program of the New York Crusade, when thousands of visitors will go door-to-door throughout the Metropolitan area in a personal soul winning endeavor. The week will culminate with a mass rally in the Polo Grounds on the after- noon of October 27, Reformation Sunday.
Next evangelistic work by the Team will be the tour of nine countries of the Caribbean Area during January and February, 1958. Rev. Kenneth Strachan of the Latin American Mission is heading the visit the result of almost five years of prayer and preparation.
San Francisco will be the site of the next city-wide Crusade, beginning on April 27, 1958.