Click here to
listen to an audio file of this interview (61 minutes)
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the second oral history interview of Miss Elizabeth Morrell Evans (CN 279, #T2) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded have been omitted. In a very few cases, words were too unclear to be distinguished, in which cases "[unclear]" or "[?]" were inserted. Also, grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. This is a transcription of spoken English, which of course follows a different rhythm and even rule than spoken English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcription was by Robert Shuster and Elisabeth Browne and was completed on February 1990.
Collection 279, Tape #T2, Interview of Miss Elizabeth Morrell Evans, Interviewed by Robert Shuster, October 8, 1984.
SHUSTER: This is the continuation of the interview with Miss Elizabeth Evans.
Miss Evans, you were talking about your years in Wheaton. Tell me, when you are at Wheaton, do you have any contact or hear about Paul Rader who was in Chicago at that time?
EVANS: Yes, I went in at least once or twice to the [Moody] Tabernacle. I remember vividly, how inspiring it was. I remember that Richard Oliver was playing the piano at that time, and he was about seventeen, and his feet hardly reached the pedals. [Chuckles] But his hands were all over the piano. I remember the band music and things of that sort, and Paul Rader preaching.
EVANS: He was very inspiring.
SHUSTER: How would you describe him as a preacher?
EVANS: Oh, he was...he was one of the most interesting, inspirational preachers I ever heard. He spoke so vividly. You could just live the events he spoke about. You could just see them so clearly. He made word pictures that were very, very striking, and, very appealing, and he had a...a earnestness and a zest to his preaching.
SHUSTER: Do you recall any examples of his word pictures?
EVANS: I think not. I think not. Katherine might know more (my younger sister) because he was the president of the Christian Alliance when she was at...at Ny...Nyack, at the institute, and he was dean.
SHUSTER: Did you go in a group down to the Tabernacle or did you just...?
EVANS: Well, I think just two or three of us. I went two or three times with a friend to Evanston and I heard [Efram] Zimbalist and [Jascha] Heifetz when they first came to America. That was a marvelous opportunity. So, we might on a weekend go to someplace. This...these were on a weekend. I had special permission to go to hear these very fine musical occasions.
SHUSTER: After you graduated from Wheaton, where did you go from there?
EVANS: Mother insisted that I should go home for awhile because I had been away even one summer, all summer, I had stayed here at Wheaton. I had stayed here all summer my la...after my graduation, in this area and worked. And so I taught fifth grade in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, and got a certificate to teach in New Jersey that year. But I wasn't satisfied to continue. I...the next year I heard of...of an orphanage in Rumney, New Hampshire, West Rumney, that needed a teacher very much for all the grade. It was sub-primary through seventh grade that I taught that year. And it was a great undertaking. We weren't taught here at Wheaton to teach all the grades or to combine some of the subjects so I had five minute classes all day long, every day, corrected the papers, lived in the same building. I lived at...just a door away from the girls playroom in the winter months. And I also taught simple piano to some of the students. By spring, I was...I just about had it. [laughs] Confined that way through all the ice and snow of winter up there where the temperature got down to 39 below zero one night. So that I had bursitis in my shoulders and a...arthritis in my neck. And the doctor said if I would go to Florida I could burn it out. So I was offered a position with J. Elwin Wright who had been superintendent earlier of this orphanage and other work at Rumney, New Hampshire and of whom I knew, and he was in the real estate business. It was...from the time he was just a young man, he made his living in real estate and then did a great deal of Christian work. They had a conference grounds that they started and he and his father who were in...usually farms and wood lots, buying. They financed the work and made a living for themselves. And so he was in real estate in Florida in the winter.
SHUSTER: Was he the one who had hired you for the job at the orphanage?
EVANS: Yes. He was...he was the supervisor you might say, but at a distance.
SHUSTER: And so you....
EVANS: And I had met him while he was a student at Nyack.
EVANS: My...my family had met him. And he had services at the mission my mother had in downtown Nyack.
SHUSTER: What do you recall of him as a young man? What...
EVANS: He wasn't...
EVANS: ...he wasn't so young at that time. He was married and had a little girl of about six or seven, I think. And he had been in...quite active in Christian work from an early age but always in business also. And he was in Florida. It was very difficult finally when he gave up business and...and started full time Christian work, to accept a salary or any kind of an allowance. It was very difficult for him because by that time he was in his thirties at least or quite a...or almost in his early forties. And he had always earned his own living and had given his services in the Lord's work. But he had a need for a secretary, and he said that I also could do Christian work on the side. And there was.... I found it was a wonderful opportunity. I worked in the office from 8 to 4. And then he would excuse me, and I could go to the tourist camps. The first year I went into the tourist camps down there in Orlando, they had a 150 children in that tourist camp. And so we arranged for Sunday school and in the morning, and in another camp that had about 75 or 85 children, we had Sunday school in the afternoon. And then, Dr. Wright and his wife would go to this tourist camp in the evening. And they would have pastors of the various churches to come and give us sermons. And Dr. Wright played the saxophone, his wife played the violin, and I played a little folding organ. And then we had the preaching and so on. One year, my sister, Anne, helped, one of the early years. And she had children's meetings, women's meetings, women's sewing classes, youth meetings. We got into the camps because they said if you will just come out here and teach these children to play games, you can do anything you want to.
SHUSTER: [laughs] Because the children...
EVANS: And so children were....
SHUSTER: ...were so uncontrollable that....
EVANS: Yes. They have their school right there on the...in the tourist camp, 150 children. And he said, "They quarrel so. If you could just teach them how to play games." Well, we had been taught by our mother all kinds of outdoor games. And so we taught them. Every week or so, we had a new game that they learned. But that gave us an entree into these two camps. And so, for the first three years or four years that I was there earning a living and helping my mother with the younger children. I sent half of what I made right to my mother, so that she would have help with the younger children and getting them through grade school and high school.
SHUSTER: Now was your father...?
EVANS: And I did that for six years.
SHUSTER: Now was your father still alive?
EVANS: My father was alive for a major part of that time, but he was quite elderly by then, and it was difficult for him to...to be as active. He himself though was so devoted that he published a little folder and distributed it all over town, all over Nyack, downtown. He was quite concerned about the people in the village. At that time, there were just a few...few of the formal churches. Now the [Christian and Missionary] Alliance has a very active church, downtown, but they didn't at that time. And he did that right until the very time of his death. Also, went to the...to new city...to the city or county jail and had jail services. And Mother.... I cut my eye teeth, you might say, in giving her testimony out at the city jail when I was fifteen. Well, to tell the story in Florida, Dr. Wright did many things in Christian work including a mission conferences clear across Florida from north to south and having a great afternoon service in the auditorium, Sunday afternoons during the tourist season. And various things of that sort that he would think.... And then established a Gospel bookstore down there. And so we moved our office into the Gospel bookstore, so that I could take care of that and some as...as the real estate work began to grow less and less attractive. It was near the time of the great bust over Wall Street in '29.
SHUSTER: So the real estate business was declining anyway?
EVANS: Yeah. And so, then Dr. Wright had the bookstore and was doing much more work in New England. Until the next year, he went...stayed in New England all the time.
SHUSTER: What did he look like? What was his appearance?
EVANS: He was about...about 5 foot 10, I think, fairly stocky built, but athletic. He was quick...was very quick on his feet. He would have made a good dancer, I guess in that respect. He was a man of...very quiet in his speech. He was a man that had a soft voice that he usually wouldn't raise. But he was a man of great determination. He would...he was a visionary man in many ways. But, he wer...worked out his vision. I could tell you many things about his life. I.... He had blue eyes and black hair I think or very dark and fairly penetrating. But, he was a very good business man. At 15, he made his first money. He went...he would go around with his father in the, in wood lots, and he could trace a wood lot and he could tell you in a little while how many feet there were [of] timber there. And also farms and this was a farm. He put a...a very small amount, twnety-five dollars I think as a first payment and sold it so soon that he made five hundred dollars. And he was fifteen years old, and he's that type of man. But very unassuming. He was never one that went in and attracted wide attention by a flaming personality, but he was a quiet man but with resources. He put...he was very active in politics in New Hampshire as a young man, but very much interested in...in the poor children, the neglected children. He would sometimes go into a home and forcibly take the children when they were being terribly mistreated. He also felt that the Lord gave him a pattern for foster homes. There had never been any foster homes before that, just orphanages. And although foster homes now are subject to a good deal of questions, in those days, they were a great blessing because it took many of those children out of these orphanages and gave them a chance for family life in the homes of Christian people.
SHUSTER: Did he organize these himself or was it for the state? Or was it...?
EVANS: No he.... The state. They passed the bill that he felt the Lord gave him and it became a model for many other states. They came to New Hampshire to see what this...was being done. And they patterned their bill after the one that he felt God had given him.
SHUSTER: Was he a state legislator?
EVANS: No, he never was, but he was a good lobbyist.
EVANS: When he had anything that he wanted to put through that he felt would be for the betterment of the state or Christian work, why he knew...he knew all of the principal people there. And he...he was well known around Washington too.
SHUSTER: How...did he ever tell you how he was converted? How he became a Christian?
EVANS: No. But I read that [pauses] when he was either nine or twelve, and I don't remember for sure just which it was...he...he felt a call at the camp meeting to give his heart to the Lord. And he got all the boys that were in the row that were his pals. They all went up together. And they gave their heart to the Lord. And another year, he felt called to be...to surrender his life for Christian work and wanted to go to the mission field, but it never worked out for him to go. But he did help many others to go. He started a chain of missionary conferences down through Florida that was of great interest. Before that time, Tampa might have one. They'd bring these speakers to a certain city, then they'd have to go home, perhaps and then later go to another city. And Dr. Wright said, "This is a great waste. We will have them have a chain of missionary conferences." And so he arranged right down through the states. I remember Dr. [Robert] Glover...
EVANS: ...of the CIM [China Inland Mission] was one of them and other fine speakers of that sort. And he'd arrange a...several days of missionary conferences for each city and then the whole group would go to another city, and to another, and to another. A little of that is still carried on, but for several years, he had it go before he himself left, so that it may...may have disintegrated.
SHUSTER: Where did his doctorate come from?
EVANS: Pardon me.
SHUSTER: Where did his doctorate come from?
EVANS: From Bob Jones College.
EVANS: [Laughs] From Bob Jones University. We were quite fond of Dr. Bob and of his son, and often had them as speakers around New England, with the New England Fellowship. See, during those years, after the start of the.... The spiritual life of New England was at a very, very low ebb. It was practically Unitarian throughout. It...or instance, in the whole state of Vermont, the one good Baptist pastor could not find another Evangelical Baptist pastor at the state convention that was held each year. A Congregational pastor said the very same thing; he was all alone. Therefore, when Rumney conference started, and they got together they found that they were only twenty-five miles apart over a mountain on the two sides and of two different denominations, but they could have wonderful fellowship. But that was the situation throughout New England. Connecticut, for instance, Massachusetts. Massachusetts, around the Boston area may have had a little more spiritual life and a few more of the pastors that were true to the faith, but most throughout the upper states were under the domination of the Federal Council of Churches and there was a concerted effort to keep out Evangelical pastors in those states.
SHUSTER: How did that work, I mean, how did it operate?
EVANS: Pardon me?
SHUSTER: How did that operate? You said there was concerted effort, but....
EVANS: Oh, the...if a state...if a church was without a pastor and the state leader heard that they had asked for someone to speak who was an Evangelical pastor, they would...they would talk against him and try to discredit him completely.
SHUSTER: Who would?
EVANS: The state...state leader of the convention. They had their state conventions for the Baptists and so forth. It was more evident in Vermont and New Hampshire than it was in the state of Maine. There were more Evangelicals. Especially some of those that had come down from Nova Scotia in the Methodist church was true to the Word. In the state of Maine. But otherwise, in the other...the other states, the Unitarian faith was very, very prominent. That's why the New England Fellowship was started. At that time there was no other conference in all of New England that was true to the Word of God. His father had started it.
SHUSTER: Wright's father had started...?
EVANS: Pardon? Pardon?
SHUSTER: Wright's father had started it?
EVANS: Oh, yes. Joel Wright had been a Free Methodist pastor...a Free Baptist pastor in Vermont and also a Free Methodist pastor at different times. He had built some of the churches of Vermont in the Barre area but then he had gone to the middle of New Hampshire and he felt that when he came to the Rumney area that God told him to build a conference grounds there so that Christian people could come there for their spiritual help. And he had a camp meeting and he had one or two other....
SHUSTER: [sneezes] Excuse me.
EVANS: I hope you're not getting that from me. [laughs]
SHUSTER: No, I already had a cold.
EVANS: He had these in different times of the summer months and built up a conference grounds there that was very crude, you might say, as to a portion of it. They had one home that had sometimes Bible School at times when the farmers could spare their young people for a few weeks at a time to attend. And things of that sort that might be carried out through the year. He also had an old people's home. He had this summer conference and a camp meeting and things of that sort on the grounds. Then he said in 1924 that his son must take his place and he must retire 'cause he was more elderly and not as able to carry on. And his son was very loath to do it knowing that his father had very definite ideas about how he wanted to run it. He started originally to be quite interdenominational in his viewpoint, but eventually began to work into what would be a denomination.
SHUSTER: This was....
EVANS: Now the Alliance did the same thing. Dr. Simpson all his life insisted it was not a denomination. They began very simply with perhaps an afternoon meeting of missionary interest or of spiritual interest. Gradually...to send out so many missionaries they realized they really needed church base for the support of them. And also when converts were made they needed to be able to welcome them to a church and give them a church life and church growth and so eventually all of these became churches until his successors had to acknowledge the Alliance was a denomination. It was beginning to be that way with Joel Wright, that he had that idea of building up churches in different states and he had his workers in different states of New England and then they came together at the summ...summer conference time. The son said that it didn't start that way; it was interdenominational and that was his desire. So from '24 on he had speakers of various denominations that came, but the New England Fellowship itself was begun in 1929.
SHUSTER: Now you came up with Dr. Wright in '24 or did you come after?
EVANS: Well, just in the summer. I didn't always...I wasn't always at the conference grounds. One summer he had a Bible School there. Another summer he had methods of teaching, things of that sort there. But one summer my mother and I went over to Vermont and...and opened closed churches. During the period between the early conference and the late camp meeting.
SHUSTER: What did that involve?
EVANS: Pardon me?
SHUSTER: What did opening closed churches involve?
EVANS: Oh, we took...got an apartment in a farm home and then we went to a closed church in East Barre and opened it and had preaching service Sunday morning and sometimes we went to Washington and had another service in the morning. Then we'd have a service in another church in the evening, in these closed churches of that area down by....
SHUSTER: So you and your mother did the preaching?
EVANS: Yes, yes, mother a good deal of the time. She was a very good Bible teacher.
SHUSTER: Was there any resistance because you were women, to preaching?
EVANS: Oh, no, not at all. They welcomed us. And we had a very active children's work. That's why later I was called there.
SHUSTER: To the...?
EVANS: Yes, because I had always intended to be a foreign missionary. Yes, I had served those six years 'til Katherine and Grace had come out to Wheaton and I felt that they were well on their way; they could earn their own way. So that I would be free to go into Christian work. And I thought, "Now...now I will go to be a foreign missionary." And mother was willing that I should. And I prayed about it and I even considered one possibility of going to Africa with a mission and went to their headquarters in Philadelphia and worked in the office and prayed...
SHUSTER: Was that AIM [Africa Inland Mission]?
EVANS: ...about what I should do. No, I'm not telling the mission. And I still didn't feel really led. I wasn't at all sure it was of the Lord, though they offered me a very interesting position. To supervise their primary schools in Africa over a wide area, and so forth and I was well prepared for that. And I would have enjoyed it, but I didn't feel really quite sure. And so I was working in their office and helping them. I also was helping with the D. M. Stearns fund. I think you probably know that because it gets a good deal of money to various missionaries through churches and so on. And I also helped them in their office, sending out receipts and things of that sort, and praying that God would guide. And I was on the streets of Philadelphia (I suppose perhaps going to the bank with the money that had come or something, I don't know why I was out on the streets) when I met Dr. [Robert] Glover and he said, "Elizabeth Evans! What are you doing here?" So I told him what I was contemplating and he...he said, "I don't believe that's of the Lord for you." And he...he told me his reasons. And I felt that that was of the Lord, very definitely. I felt, "Here I have been very uncertain in my heart, and I couldn't say yes, that I would go, in spite of how attractive it seemed. Now the Lord has caused me to meet that man on the street purely by accident on my part and that this is the Lord speaking." So I immediately resigned from there, just as soon as I could give proper notice, and went home and said, "I am going to stay here until I know what the Lord's.... I am not going to run any chance of going any place out of the will of the Lord. I want to really know." And the Lord gave me, while I was there helping my mother with my elderly cousin, the Lord gave me sort of a vision of those children up there, those black-eyed, black-haired children and said, "That's where I want you to be."
SHUSTER: What were the reasons that Dr. [Robert] Glover said he didn't think it was of the Lord?
EVANS: I don't want to tell those reasons.
SHUSTER: Oh, okay.
EVANS: It might reflect on the mission. It has succeeded. It was a new mission.
SHUSTER: You said, "Black-haired, black-eyed children." You mean up in New England?
EVANS: In New England, yes.
EVANS: In the quarries area. And I felt that the Lord was leading me to go up to New England and work in the work. It was...it was...the New England Fellowship had been started.
SHUSTER: How did it...how did New England Fellowship begin?
EVANS: I was in Orlando, in the bookstore, there, and helping with Dr. Wright's secretarial work. And the New England Fellowship was about...was in Dr. Wright's heart. And he felt that this was the way to go. As I said, in '24 he had taken over the conference grounds and the work there, the orphanage and the old people's home and so forth and work around New England and it was prospering. And he felt that the...they should make a real step forward. So he got the yearbooks of all the major denominations and he had me address envelopes to all of those pastors of all those denominations. It was somewhat over 6,000 envelopes that I addressed.
SHUSTER: Which you all did by hand, no doubt.
EVANS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I may have done it on a typewriter, but I don't think so. And, well, I did type, so probably they were typewritten, [chuckles] but just the same it was quite a job. And then he made a program for a conference that he thought would really attract those that wanted that type of conference. As I say, there was no conference grounds in all of New England in those days, an interdenominational conference grounds, except Northfield. And everyone knew that Northfield had gone modern enough so that it had only modernist pastors and leaders to speak there. So, he asked for W. B. Riley to be one of the speakers. He said, "Anybody that sees that name, if they know anything about Christian circles at all, they'll know what kind of a conference that's gonna be." Then we got dear, old Dr. [Kenneth] MacKenzie, who was an Episcopalian, and Dr. [F. Noel] Palmer, who was a Christian Missionary Alliance but became Anglican later in the Toronto church, Anglican church, and one or two others that would be...make a very good program. And he made a very interesting, very nice, big program of it and Rumney had to offer and so forth by accommodations and it would be from Monday afternoon 'til Saturday morning after breakfast for five dollars. Four dollars for other members of the family of the pastors. And we had a very good attendance from the very first. And it grew and grew and grew and grew every year. We considered that the beginning of the New England Fellowship, from that date.
SHUSTER: How was...?
EVANS: It was a continuation, you see, of the same conference grounds that had been established before. And then he also had later conferences and within a year or two he was having a school of methods or...or something of that sort. And he was having a Bible conference three weeks and having various speakers and missionary speakers and so on. A wide variety.
SHUSTER: Was the conference intended mainly for pastors?
EVANS: Oh, no. Just one. One short conference from Monday afternoon 'til Saturday morning, and he had Dr. Ock...A. Z. Conrad, a pastor at Park Street Church at that time, very much interested. And he came one day a week, Wednesday, and was always a fine feature of it. Then Dr. [Harold] Ockenga began to come and he became the pastor one day and once in a while, other days, he stayed for a whole week in August when he was first pastor of...of Park Street Church, and was on the board for many years. Well, then, from then on, you see, there was an active program there through the summer months. But Dr. Wright also began immediately to taking these very fine speakers, like Dr. [H. A.] Ironside, Bill Houghton, William Ward Ayer, Carl Armerding, many of these speakers, he began taking on circuits of Bible conferences. Sometimes he had a one-week or a five-day conference in several different places because all of New England was so much in need of spiritual help. There were these fine, Christian people in different states and in different denominations that were being just starved to death, and so glad to have an opportunity to hear some of these fine men.
SHUSTER: Did Dr. Wright meet resistance from the FCC [Federal Council of Churches] or from Unitarian Churches or was...?
EVANS: Well, he didn't set it up in a way to make too much resistance because what he did was to select one church or one...if necessary a larger auditorium than a church and had the pastors of that area who wanted to announce it and wanted to participate to come. One thing he did immediately even before the New England Fellowship started was to begin to gather to him is an Advisory Council and a Board, men of fine character in...in Christian churches that were earnest. It might be a single man, he might be one of the few in his church that was really Evangelical and really progressive for Bible work, to be on the board of the New England Fellowship. He tried to have representatives from every state and from every major denomination that were truly Evangelical, that were known within their own ranks. And, increasingly, began to get some Evangelical pastors into some of the churches. Dr. [Harold] Ockenga was a great help in that, once he was well established and the Gordon students began to fill pulpits. There'd be great resistance if it were known by the state leaders but sometimes the churches would be insistent after they had heard these fine Bible men preach. Dr. Rimmer, for instance, would draw the people from seventy miles around to come the day that he was to be in one of these circuits. At first they were longer, somewhat longer, conferences, but finally it was a case of one day, it would be perhaps afternoon and evening and then they'd go on and Dr. Wright very often took them. In the earlier years he'd have several days and Katherine would be the registrar for them and she would teach at...have a children's class. Sometimes he had Richard Oliver to be in charge of the music and play...and play a solo or two. Transcription. And he might have a youth meeting as well. They might have an afternoon meeting especially for pastors. Or they might have an afternoon meeting for the farmer folks that would come from all their little farms around 50 miles or so, that could only attend in the afternoon, and then go on to another town and another. Or, as I say, in the earlier days it was a several-day conference often, two or three days at least.
SHUSTER: Now the Fellowship also had a radio program, didn't it?
EVANS: Yes, he began the radio out in '32, in the very early days. I remember, he went to Miami for a Bible conference and evangelistic meetings. In '31, I think it was, it was just after, I know, after Richard Oliver was killed, and he took Kay and me to help with it and he had Homer Grimes who was quite an outstanding evangelist of that day. By the way, his son, Joseph Grimes, was honored just a little while ago here.
SHUSTER: I didn't know that.
EVANS: Yes, Dr. Joseph Grimes, who invented the...who adapted the computer to the translation of Wycliffe Translators. I saw it in the...in your magazine that came out. Yes, Homer Grimes was our evangelist there several years at two different times. And, in fact, Joe was just a tiny boy and his sister was born right up there in New England while he was with them. The...these...we wrote to Miami, to the Alliance Church, the First Alliance, and had this combined conference. And the...the radio was new there and so Kay and I sang and I played the guitar and people gave testimony and preached a little on that new program, free of charge. All of the work would be free of charge because these stations were just starting. They were so glad to have some help. They also had an outdoor meeting at Bay Shore Park that sometimes as many as five or six thousand would attend.
SHUSTER: And that was broadcast? And they would...?
EVANS: No, I don't think that was broadcast. No, they didn't do that in those days.
SHUSTER: Of course, Paul Rader had been on the radio for a number of years by that time. Did he have any influence on Dr. Wright's starting a program?
EVANS: I...Dr. Wright knew all these men, but I...they didn't have any particular...they didn't help at all with it or anything of that sort. But Dr. Wright had the vision for it from the very first, and so immediately in the early thirties, about '32, he had a group of musicians and so on and speakers that he began to take around. The Portsmouth station was just starting. They made their headquarters there and he trained them. He took people and made them work six hours a day to put together a program. In those days they were so new. So new, for him to go around to other churches and put on a whole musical program. For instance, he had the 23rd Psalm, the Shepherd Psalm, and he had a whole program of the singing of different things, playing violins, perhaps a marvelous soloist, and then he would have these meetings in between. And he had this program, could get into modern churches all over New England with that program. And then, it was so well thought of that he could get into Moody Church and the Church of the Open Door and all these churches clear across the country. That's the way he did the spade work for the NAE.
SHUSTER: Was he...was the program on every day or once a week, twice a week....
EVANS: No, it was on half an hour every morning, for 25 years. Live. Live.
SHUSTER: And he introduced it himself or...?
EVANS: Yes, he wasn't on it every day all the time but he had it going all the time. And it was a half an hour of varied program. Very short messages, and interspersed with music throughout. It was quite a unique program for those days.
SHUSTER: Did Francis and Edith Schaeffer have any participation...
SHUSTER: ...in the Fellowship?
SHUSTER: What did they do?
EVANS: Well, from the very beginning, almost the beginning of the New England Fellowship he had a boys and girls' camp up there. There was a bluff above the conference grounds, Horseshoe Bluff, and he had planted pine trees....
SHUSTER: Schaeffer had?
EVANS: Dr. Wright. Pine trees in an area that was open and then he...he dammed a stream, a little stream, and made a nice lake there for...for swimming. We went down to the river and swam before that. And it was quite good at that time. Now it's eroded so that it...it doesn't have a good beach, but it had a beautiful beach down at the Baker River. Now I see that they're having...
EVANS: ...these tires, inner tubes, parties? Going down that river? We used to bathe down there before we had our lake made and Mr. Schaeffer and his wife were in charge of the boys' camp as a young couple. I think in their late thirties probably, I don't remember just for sure. But they were very...they were very nice to the children.
SHUSTER: That was the Richard Oliver Camp, wasn't it?
EVANS: Yes, it was called Camp Richard Weber Oliver because, although Richard didn't have anything to do with it, he had had to do with Rumney and the work and going out and...so when he was killed Dr. Wright said "We'll nam...we'll name the camp we are starting in his honor," and continued it that until Grafton Harpell came along, I don't know if you know him, but, he was one of the starters of...he got his Master's here as well as his A.B. and he helped to start Christian Service Brigade. And then he came and had...was the leader of Christian Service Brigade in New England in winters all the time and in charge of the summer. So then he changed the name to Pine Ridge. He said Camp Richard Weber Oliver was too long for a camp. [laughs] And although we felt kind of sorry not to have it Richard Oliver, still we bowed to his desire and he was in charge of that for quite a few years after the Schaeffers were.
SHUSTER: What were your impressions of the Schaeffers, of Francis and Edith, [unclear]...?
EVANS: Oh, they were so dear to the children. She was such a mother to them, you know. One of the missionaries of the AIM [Africa Inland Mission] that came up as just a young boy, came to see us at the Bradenton Village when he was on furlough just a little while ago and he said, "I was there when the Schaeffers were there." And he went and spoke to them in some place where they were having a service. And Edith Schaeffer came and she took his hands like this and she said, "Oh, I'm so glad to see somebody...the fruit of our work up there that year." They loved it so, and loved New England so that as they themselves wrote in the Gordon paper they were very much tempted to give their life to New England, to take a small, closed church and open it and see from there.
SHUSTER: But, then they went over to Europe, right?
EVANS: Yes, yes. I think he had a church, I think he had a church for awhile, but it wasn't in New England.
SHUSTER: Do you recall hearing him preach at all at that time, or....?
EVANS: No, I don't think that he did much. No, I think that he spent most of his time right at the camp. Of course they had daily devotions and daily Bible study and that sort of thing the whole time, I would say.
SHUSTER: I don't want to keep you too much longer because we've been talking for about two hours, but I wanted to ask you one last question. I know that in 1941, Ralph Davis sent around letters to...a letter to many Evangelical leaders about Evangelical unity and that...that resulted in....
EVANS: That was Dr. Wright who sent that around.
SHUSTER: Well, there was a letter first from Ralph Davis.
EVANS: Well, Dr. Wright and Ralph Davis worked together quite a little there at the first. The very first letter, the official letter that went around was Dr. Wright's. But it may be that you're talking about the preliminary one where they asked some of the leaders to come together....
SHUSTER: I guess that was the one.
EVANS: ... and talk over. Dr. Wright had already laid all the spade work, but he and Ralph Davis were working together on that and I think that they sent out a letter together, as I remember, and then suggested that they meet together in Chicago to talk about it and to plan for it. And it was a...a very representative group of various men, largely those who had been speakers in New Hampshire. Although he had gone back and forth, he took his...the radio ensemble which was such a fine group, and these programs that he had...
SHUSTER: This was...
EVANS: ...and he went to many churches across...
SHUSTER: ...Dr. Wright?
EVANS: ...clear across the country. So he had a wide knowledge of....
SHUSTER: It was Dr. Wright?
EVANS: Yes, Dr. Wright, with the New England Fellowship. And he had a wide knowledge of...of...far wider than Ralph Davis had, of churches...
SHUSTER: How did...how did Ralph Davis...?
EVANS: ...clear across the country.
SHUSTER: How did Ralph Davis become involved?
EVANS: I...I...I can't tell you that for sure, but I just know that he showed some interest in it as well as Dr. Wright. Dr. Wright always had representatives of the different missions at his place...summer conferences in Rumney, or speaking in different places, but especially the summer conferences. And so AIM [Africa Inland Mission, of which Davis was the director] missionaries would be there and CIM [China Inland Mission] missionaries, Dr. [Robert] Glover himself and others, and of...and...and several of the other denominations and I have an idea that it was through that and through the services that Dr. Wright had around New York [where AIM had its headquarters]. He would go, for instance, to the daily...where two churches that had daily prayer meetings at noon time for the businessmen, and he'd go to those sometimes. Dr. Wright was always on the go and mingling with people and getting to know people. And his trips across the country, he'd take the radio ensemble for the services and then he'd have the conferences with the Christian leaders of the different areas, so he was very cognizant of a tremendous number. And you see when they sent out that call, it was a long list of these men who united in sending out the call for that very first meeting in St. Louis.
SHUSTER: When do you think Dr. Wright first got the idea of...?
EVANS: Oh, I would say around in '36 and '37.
SHUSTER: That early?
EVANS: Yes, that early. Yes, and one reason that he did was these speakers that would come...would say, "Oh, this fellowship is so wonderful! Oh, to see these people of all these different denominations...." You see our motto was that, (it not original with us), "But in...", I can't tell it to you exactly, "But in some things, charity, in all things, you know, liberty." I'm sorry, I should have that in my mind to recite. But it was the...that was the principle under which the Fellowship operated. And we had such wonderful fellowship in New England, we didn't have in-fighting, we didn't have groups come out or groups.... We had this sweet fellowship and they would sense it and realize it and how wonderful it was and they'd say, "We oughta have something like the New England Fellowship nationally." And...and so they'd say, "Why don'tcha do something about it." or something and Dr. Wright might say, "Well, let's do something about it." So he would go around, you see, and get acquainted with these people all over. Of course, Ralph Davis knew quite a good many because he'd have missionaries coming into the AIM from churches around the country. It was an interdenominational, undenominational, inter, whatever you'd call it mission board, the faith board, as they called it. So he would have some knowledge of it, but he showed a great interest, and I can't tell you which of them, which one spoke with which to begin with. But they worked together on it through the Call and the beginning of the....when Ralph Davis dropped out after the first St. Louis meeting.
SHUSTER: And why did he drop out?
EVANS: Well, I wouldn't want that put on the tape.
SHUSTER: Okay. Well....
EVANS: I told your friend.
SHUSTER: Joel. Well, we've talked for quite some time so maybe I ought to let you go now. This has been very enjoyable, enlightening.... I want to thank you on behalf of the Archives....
EVANS: I might say one or two things about the particular work that the Lord gave to us in the rural schools.
EVANS: My work was especially the Christian Education work.
SHUSTER: And this was before you came to the Fellowship.
EVANS: Well, I'd...I adapted my training I'd had in education, I adapted it, you see, to the Christian work. And so from the very beginning I went to five or ten or fifteen different schools and told about what we were doing in New England and I'd get workers for the summer. And then workers for the year. At first, I worked alone, and I had three Vacation Bible Schools. And Dr. Wright said, "Multiply yourself." So the next year I taught Vacation School methods at Gordon College and at Providence Bible Institute, as it was then, Barrington [College], and at the New England School of Theology. And I gathered twelve girls that would want to do Vacation Bible School work. I would bring them to Rumney before the summer season started, after they finished their schoolwork, and I'd give them a week of intensive preparation to run Vacation Bible Schools, to supervise them, and send them two by two, all around to the different villages, towns and villages, but largely cities and towns, to run Vacation Bible Schools. And they would supervise them and they'd often be interdenominational, there'd be several different ones. We kept that up all through the years that I had charge until we were teaching ten thousand children in the summer months. Right away I began to think of the winter program. Even before that, I had been up there and had seen, as I had told you, the need in the rural areas. And I thought, "How can we meet that need? How can we?" I would go into an area doing visitation work for a pastor, he may have five little churches in five little communities with no chance to do any personal work, visitation. And they'd engage me to go around to the...to the homes and I'd stop in at a little school and I would say, "Would you like me to have a little program with the children?" I had a guitar with me and I would teach them a song and I would teach them John 3:16 and I would tell them a story that would illustrate John 3:16 and so forth. A little program, and the teacher would say, "Won't you come back? Won't you come back soon?" And I'd...I'd say, "Well, I don't know if I'll ever be in this area again." But that was so impressed upon me, the need. They might say, "Look at these children, they never have gone to a school...a church, in their life. They oughta have something." And the Lord gave me the pattern of going from church...to school to school to school to school and having a regular circuit, until I had...I'd had these girls that I would see were 'specially good at anything like that and willing for that was a hard life.... Some of the mission boards like the Alliance and the CIM [China Inland Mission] and some of the others said, "You go up to New England and work with Elizabeth Evans and in that rural work," as we called it, "and you'll make a good missionary." And so I had any number of them that later went to the mission field. And so they would go and give an hour once in two weeks. I said, at Release Time, you see I'd helped with Release Time, and I'd helped write...write the...the lessons...the outlines of lessons for...for NAE [National Association of Evangelicals] when they were doing that program with the Education Commission. And I had done Release Time work and I knew that they didn't have a whole...half an hour to teach once a week. By the time you got them to an outside place and got them back again you'd hardly have an hour or a forty minute program which they usually had. So I said, "We'll do it a whole hour once in two weeks and then they can get around to quite a few schools. So they'd do forty or forty-five classes in a week and go to...in the two weeks...and go on this program, 'til we were teaching eleven thousand children out in those isolated rural schools. See, that was one of the side programs of the New England Fellowship.
SHUSTER: And what kind of things did you teach?
EVANS: Oh, we taught the Bi...Bible. The state superintendent, the state religious education man, he would try to get us to teach songs and proverbs and I'd say, "No way. We're going to teach them the whole...all...all the great stories of the Bible and the life of Christ." I said, "We wouldn't be willing otherwise." And the schools wanted us to. I always went to the superintendent of schools first. He would have perhaps sixty schools. He would be in charge of several towns and I'd get permission from him first. And then I'd get permission from the three school board members of every township. And I'd go to every single one of them because you don't leave out one. He'll say, "Well, I wasn't important enough to come." And so I'd go to all three every time no matter how long it took and I'd get permission, you see. And they would all give us, "Yes, all our rural schools." The superintendent would outline it and tell us what schools we could go to and they'd be way out in the country and away from the villages. Like one modernist pastor said, "Well, I...you...I don't think you'd hurt them." He said, "I wouldn't want you to go to this one that's in town." And I'd say, "We don't want to go because you've got a church and Sunday school and we wanna go to the ones outside that don't." And so that's a big activity that we had in the New England Fellowship beside the work that was done in other ways.
SHUSTER: And as you mentioned you were also training missionaries for....
EVANS: Yes. [laughs]
SHUSTER: Well, once again, thank you.
EVANS: You know Mr. Rossi at the missionary village where I am now?
EVANS: You don't, well, he was the president of Tropicana.
EVANS: And he sold....
SHUSTER: The fruit juice company?
EVANS: Fruit juice, biggest in the world. And he sold that and then he built this property. Bought it and developed...he has a room for about 500 missionaries but they must have been on the field for twenty years at least and be Evangelical and need such a place. If they have too much money, why they aren't acceptable because he wants to help those that can't afford some of these fine places. And that's where we are now.
SHUSTER: And the name of the...the name of the development is....?
EVANS: It's just called Missionary Village. The Aurora Foundation is the Foundation that he made. And it's there at Bradenton and missionaries like it very, very much. We have about seventy there now. It's grown rapidly.
SHUSTER: Well, once again, thank you and I hope maybe sometime in the future we can pick up where we left off and talk about the NAE [National Association of Evangelicals] and the WEF [World Evangelical Fellowship] and your years in Taiwan. Thank you again.
EVANS: Well, I'm awfully sorry my voice doesn't sound better. It sounds quite low.
SHUSTER: Sounds good to me.
END OF TAPE