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 sixth oral history interview of Miss Elizabeth Morrell Evans (CN 279, #T5) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. In a very few cases, words were too unclear to be distinguished, so the word "[unclear]" was inserted. This is a transcription of spoken English, which, of course, follows a different rhythm and rule than written English. Also, if the speaker used an older version of a Chinese name, such as Peking" instead of "Beijing," then it is the older version which is in the transcript.
... Three dots indicate what the 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 parenthesis are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Robert Shuster and was completed July 1990.
Collection 279, #T5. Interview of Elizabeth Morrell Evans (CN 279, #T5) by Robert Shuster, August 27, 1985.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Miss Elizabeth Evans by Robert Shuster for the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. This interview took place on August 27th, 1985 at ten minutes to ten in the morning in the offices of the Billy Graham Center. Miss Evans, yesterday you were telling a story about how Dr. Ockenga came to be pastor of the Park Street Church. How did that happen?
EVANS: Dr. A. Z. Conrad was the pastor of the pastor of the Park Street Congregational Church and a great force for God in that er...era. He wrote several books that were a great fortification of the faith of people. But he stood practically alone in Boston in defense of the faith. It was very largely Unitarian in the churches even of the denomination, in their preaching, in their attitudes. And he himself stood out as a very strong Evangelical. The church was a very old church and it had always had good Evangelical pastors. But in the course of the years, it had acquired quite a few workers...no, members who were socially minded and they greatly desired that Dr. Conrad would shine in the circles of the pastors and take an active part in the ministerial association and be sort of a popular figure around town, rather than one that preached the Gospel with vim and vigor, much to the distress sometimes of the...the people that didn't like to hear that sort of a gospel. He was determined that he would be succeeded by a man who would carry on the tradition of Park Street Church in defense of the faith. He knew that he was getting older. At this time he was in his late seventies or early eighties. And he spoke to Dr. Nathan Wood (the president of Gordon College) and Dr. J. Elwin Wright, and he said, "I want a successor and you go about a great deal. As you travel, you must see many different men in their pulpits and...and have an appreciation of their value. I...I do not do that. So you must go and look for a man. Now, we don't want a Baptist in our congregation and so it will have to be a Presbyterian...
SHUSTER: Why didn't they want Baptist?
EVANS: ...cause.... [Pauses] Well, they...it was a Congregational church and most of the people had been sprinkled or immersed or...or a little water put on their head and they had never had baptisms of that sort, as far as I know. They've had many since because of many that have that conviction about immersion have joined the church and they take them over to Tremont Temple and have them immersed in an afternoon service over there. But at that time, it was strictly Congregational, belonged to the Congregational denomination, though not in spirit, later withdrew from the denomination. He said, "It will have to be a Presbyterian, because there are no Congregational pastors in the pulpits of this country that are str...strongly Evangelical and capable of hol... having a pulpit this size. So you be on the lookout. I'm not going to last forever." After a while he spoke again to Wright and he said, "You have not told me of a man that would be a good successor." Finally, Dr. Nathan Wood went to him and said, "I have found a man in Pittsburgh, Point Breeze Presbyterian Church, that I think is very good material as a future leader. And I think that he might qualify." So Dr. Conrad said, "Don't say a word to him about anything in connection with Park Street Church. But at the next Founder's Day, why, you ask to be one of the speakers at Gordon College and I will slip in and hear him. And then I will invite him to be a summer supply [pastor], if I think there is a possibility that he might be the right one." That is what happened and he very much approved of him as a fine young man. I think pretty close to thirty-four years of age. I'm not quite sure about that. He had a young wife with no children at that time.
SHUSTER: Where was he pastor?
EVANS: He was pastor of the Point Breeze Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. And he was getting his Phd in history (I think) there at a...the university. He came to the church and he preached as summer supply and the people were very favorable and Dr. Conrad had very good reports about it [pauses] so he invited him to come back as a candidate. He came in September and was very favorably received and they asked him to speak (I think) a second Sunday and then gave him a practically unanimous call. Some of the diehards [chuckles] might not have voted for him because he surely showed his true colors and his faith. He was a graduate of Westminster [Seminary in Philadelphia], by the way, though he was raised a Methodist originally. Then...then he was given the call and Dr. Conrad continued to hold on until the...he was in...became the pastor and there was a very fine service. He was not able to attend it, but he had a telephone connection, so that he could give a brief message of welcome to this...the new pastor and heartily endorse him before the people. And very soon after that, he died. His last appearance in public before he took sick was at the annual meeting of the New England Fellowship. He had been a good friend of the Fellowship all through the years and Dr. Wright had asked him to bring a greeting and speak briefly. And he had stepped up...he had a stride like...like a plowman or a man that had...that had many years on a ship at sea, a strong stride. And he went up with that strong stride as he...as he turned in the pulpit to...to give a word of commendation for the work that the New England Fellowship was doing and about Dr. Wright and I think he led in prayer also, at the same time. That was his last public appearance, as far as I know, when he took any part in the service.
SHUSTER: But Dr. and Mrs. Ockenga were quickly accepted by the...
EVANS: Oh, they had already...
EVANS: ...and he...and they very soon after that had the...the...I forget the name that you call it when he's installed.
EVANS: Yes. He sent a telephone message at that time, though he was not able to appear. But it...it's a tremendous proof God honoring the faith of a man and his determination to see a project through to a conclusion.
SHUSTER: Well, let's go from conclusions to beginnings. What were the origins of the New England Fellowship?
EVANS: At that time....
SHUSTER: What time?
EVANS: [Chuckles] In the 1920's. The...the pulpits of the...of New England were very largely Unitarian in spirit, if not in name. Many of the churches had become Unitarian. There were some that were called Trin...Trinitarian Congregational or...to show that they had not changed in their original beliefs concerning the verities of the faith. But the vast majority of the pastors and the pulpits were either empty or were filled with men that would not believe as we believe. And Dr. Wright realized that there was a need for a real spiritual awakening and a real revival in the churches and an infusion of people who would bring the people back to a faith in the Lord. And many of the churches, as he brought some of the great preachers of the country, in fact most of the greatest Evangelical preachers of the country into New England, the people would say, "That's the way our pastors used to preach," and were so glad to hear it once more. They were thirsty for the Gospel. The...there had been the great Billy Sunday meeting some years before and there were two outstanding characters from that.
SHUSTER: Which meeting was that?
EVANS: The...the Billy Sunday meeting.
SHUSTER: In what city?
EVANS: In Boston [November 2, 1916 to January 21, 1917]. Yes, I think that it was in Boston Garden. At least, it was a tremendous city.... We had, of course, a very large auditorium at Tremont Temple. It...it would seat many hundreds of people. But it was not large enough for...for the crowds that gathered for the Billy Sunday meeting. And one person who was a wool merchant who gave his heart to the Lord at that time. He had always attended a church that was...that was Unitarian in spirit, I think, and although he was of a...of a very, very fine character, he was not a...a person who was trusting in the Lord as his savior. And he gave his heart to the Lord at that meeting. Another was a very strong minded woman who was the head nurse, a registered nurse, in a large department store in the heart of Boston and she was soundly converted and was very much interested in the women's Bible classes which were started by...
SHUSTER: Her name was...?
EVANS: Alice Thebold[?]. She was converted at that time and immediately started to take a great interest in the women's organization that was founded almost always in connection with the Billy Sunday meetings.
SHUSTER: Did she work with Virginia Asher [unclear]?
EVANS: No, I think it was before her day. At any rate, she took an active part in continuing such a program as had been started at in the Billy Sunday meetings. And from that time on they had what they called the Boston...the Business...Businesswomen's Society. And she brought to New England speakers each month that would stimulate the spiritual life of those who attended.
SHUSTER: What kind of women belonged to this group? What did she mean by "businesswomen"?
EVANS: Well, just that. These people, very largely, were either schoolteachers or were housewives that could come out in the evening or...or they were in...in business. She herself was the head nurse of a large store that hired many women as clerks and they would be fertile ground for such a thing. And so from all over the greater Boston area these...these were gathered together for a monthly meeting. Very occasional they had a dinner, but it was almost always an evening meeting. And it was open quite often for the men as well. And Dr. Wright took a great interest in this from the very early years that he was working in Boston and he oft...very often provided very excellent speakers for them.
SHUSTER: Do you recall who some of those speakers were?
EVANS: Well, I remember Addison Ross[?] of Keswick, and I remember Donald Grey Barnhouse and I'm quite sure Will Houton and.... Usually...quite often they were missionary speakers. For instance, I remember one when they had the whole Stebbins[?] family once there and they had the whole Jackson family when our folks were there from Vietnam. It was very often a missionary speaker but sometimes a Bible teacher.
SHUSTER: When you say, "our folks," do you mean from the Christian and Missionary...?
EVANS: My family...my sister's family, the...Herbert and Lydia Jackson. Forty-eight years missionaries to the tribes of Vietnam. To go back to this era, Dr. Wright realized that although the Evangelistic Association of New England had been started by this wool merchant (Allan Emery) and it was a very fine organization, it was always true to the word of God, the program was not very extensive. For many years it was largely carried on by the executive secretary that they had. And they went to quite a few of the church groups and hold...and held evangelistic meetings. If there was a special person as Billy Sunday who came for a meeting, then they took a very active part in organizing it. Otherwise, they did not have a very large influence on the...on...on New England in general, where...where Dr. Wright saw a great need. So he felt that he was not stepping onto their territory at all when he started the New England Fellowship.
SHUSTER: You mentioned the executive secretary of this group. Who was that?
EVANS: Well, it was a Mr. Russell and from the time I was in the New England Fellowship, he was a fairly elderly man. And he held the meetings in different churches that were, you might say, to stimulate the church people somewhat.
SHUSTER: What was his first name?
EVANS: He died after.... I don't remember the name. After he died then a man by the name of Huber, I think it was, was the executive secretary. We endeavored to have various activities with them, combining...for instance, Dr. Wright brought in a...a...Walter Maier and we had a tremendous service at...at the Boston Garden. And of course he asked all the groups and especially the Evangelistic Association to take an active part in it. He invited...he invited Charles Fuller for a great meeting in 1941, I think it was, and again he asked all the men of that area, the Evangelical pastors that might be there, to take an active part and for...and consulted with the Evangelistic Association and had them participate in the program. But Dr. Wright was...was deeply concerned about all of New England and worked to that end. He himself had established a home for...for boys and girls that were in great need or motherless, fatherless. When he was nineteen years old, he began bringing in these children and used a farm building that they had on the property and at that time he began the building of a large orphanage that could be used for this purpose about three and a half miles from the conference grounds at West Rumney. He not only raised all of the money to build it, but he supervised most of the building as well. It was a three story building that could care for about thirty-five to forty children and all of the workers that were needed for that.
SHUSTER: Do you recall how much the building cost?
EVANS: No, but I have in the back of my mind the feeling that they were able to build that for about thirty-six thousand dollars. I'm not sure about that, but that was a tremendous amount of money in the 1920's. And he...he took his bride in there the day before his twenty-first birthday. It was entirely paid for. He had supervised it and it was full of children. He had a matron and he had a...a school right in the building. On the second floor most of the floor was taken up with...no, pardon me. It was the first floor. A good deal of that floor was taken up with a large schoolroom. And they had qualified school teachers each year to care for the children. They gave them excellent care, love, real love. And they...they very seldom had to use stern discipline, because from the time the children came into the home that obedience was the rule and it was the...the...the right thing to do, otherwise they would be in trouble. And you...you sensed that spirit as soon as you entered the home. Everyday they learned verses of Scripture, every day they had a time of singing, everyday they had the word of God expounded and had prayer. And of course they had prayer when they went to bed. They were taught (the boys) to farm. They had a large farm at the side to help provide all the provision that was needed but also were able to...to raise a good deal that they could sell that would with help the expense of the farm...of the home. And they taught the girls to sew and do the housework, so that when those children would go out into the world, they could get positions or would know how to care for their own homes in a very good way. Instead of having a lot of punishments, they did have a kind of demerits system which they used and the five children that were the best and did well were taken on a trip once a year. And often it was up to Old Orchard, at a very early time when Old Orchard first began to have the...the wonderful meetings that it was noted for, the...Dr. [Albert Benjamin] Simpson going there for a convention and the Salvation Army in its early days. A great many people went and the Wrights always went every year. And when the home was established, they always went...took five of the children who had been the best behaved and had accomplished the most.
SHUSTER: Where did the children come from?
EVANS: Oh, they came from very, very bad homes. They came from homes that...I remember some that I taught the year I taught there that those...those children did not know who their father was and other homes that the children had been abused terribly.
SHUSTER: So they weren't orphans.
EVANS: They...quite often they were orphans and perhaps were being cared for by some relative, you know, in a hit and miss sort of a way, and so the relative would be so glad to have them taken off of his hands.
SHUSTER: Was the home a private agency or...
SHUSTER: ...was it a state agency in some sense?
EVANS: ...it belonged to the Rumney work, yes. Dr. Wright took first responsibility and was its superintendent from the time he was nineteen. But there was a board that they had of men...of men of the community or outside. They had a good many people that were very much interested in the work there at Rumney from...from other states of New England as well. And they had services sometimes even as far as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick.
SHUSTER: What...were there other buildings...
SHUSTER: ...on the conference ground?
EVANS: At the time Dr. Wright took over...over as leader, there was just one farm building which had been...that had an extension like a shed that...in which they had their eating. The farm's first floor was the dini...the kitchen and then this was the dining room and they had long tables so that they could feed close to two hundred people there. And then they had Emmanual Home which was a large building that they had built in the later part of the nineteen century.
SHUSTER: Who had built?
EVANS: Dr. Wright's father. And it was built especially for Christian workers to come for rest and relaxation and perhaps renewal or for the farmers to send their sons and daughters for a quick Bible study during the months when they could be spared from the farms. They might have a six or eight or twelve week series of Bible studies and so forth for them. Something like a Bible school and the workers that would be able to do it. Dr. Wright's father had begun what in the end turned out to be almost a nom...denomination and Dr. Wright knew that it was far from the vision that his father had had to begin with. He had wanted to...to invigorate the churches and inspire the pastors and develop the spiritual life of the churches. But even...in the end it became a denomination, practically or in fact, though not in name, they thought. And that's one thing that...that Dr. Wright objected to in his own heart when he was asked to take over that work that his father had developed, because he himself had a vision of the unity of the Body of Christ and helping the spiritual life of the churches, upholding the churches, inspiring them, helping them to get pastors that would preach the Gospel, that sort of thing. But never to establish a church of any sort or a denomination. So from the time that New England Fellowship was begun in 1929, it was always interdenominational in every way and it...no mention was made of denominations and there was no feeling of the Baptists in one little group and the Methodists in another. They all mingled together, often didn't know what the denomination was of the other.
SHUSTER: Were there Catholic [unclear]?
EVANS: I don't think there ever did. I don't remember. But it wasn't practiced at that time at all to have Catholics. And if ever there was in.... For instance, when I had vacation bible schools all over New England and into New York and New Jersey, the Catholics loved to attend but often were forbidden to do so.
SHUSTER: Forbidden by who?
EVANS: Forbidden by the priests. We had had services in Washington, Vermont, (where Edward and Marie Hess[?] worked for many years) and in New...East Barre and...and two or three churches that were empty around that area. My mother and I went there in 1929 and opened those churches and had services through most of the summer. And we had these little black eyed children whose fathers worked in the quarries there. They were very, very interested and they loved to attend, but when the priest of Barre came over, then he forbade them to come.
SHUSTER: Why did he do that?
EVANS: Pardon me?
SHUSTER: Why did he do that?
EVANS: Well, because they were very, very much opposed...opposed to anything that was Protestant and to have them have the...being told by the stories or that they needed to give their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ or anything of that sort is really contrary to their...their position. As I think you would pretty well realize throughout the country, there was not mingling between Protestants and Catholics. And there was a great effort made if ever a man or woman wanted to marry a person who was a Catholic, the children had to be brought up Catholic.
SHUSTER: What was your own work with the New England Fellowship?
EVANS: Well, it was very varied. In the summer months from almost the very beginning of my being there, I...we started vacation Bible schools and the first year I had three and I think I told you once before that Dr. Wright said, "Multiply yourself." So I had classes, I had written...I had written a study for, I think it was about six lessons, on how to run a vacation Bible school and I used these in teaching at Gordon College and Providence Bible Institute and the New England School of Theology and I went to many different Bible schools and colleges, Christian colleges, in the course of the years to get teachers for this. We had vacation Bible schools that were three hours in length and two weeks and we provided two supervisors that we had trained for a full week and...and we provided material. At that time the Gospel Light did not provide any vacation Bible school material, Scripture Press wasn't even in existence. There were...you could get some standard publishing company material for Vacation School and Southern Baptist. But they...they didn't have as much Bible in some subjects that I felt we should have. We had Bible history, Bible geography. We had memory work. We had Bible games. We had...we taught them how to make maps to...so that they'd be quite familiar with the geography of the Bible. And we had a fine Bible study every day that was...that was constructed and consecutive so that they would have a body of truth, not just isolated stories. And year by year we built up, from various parts of the Bible, teaching that would help them to be quite familiar with the word of God.
SHUSTER: How many people did you have working with you on this?
EVANS: We started with twelve young women the first year and then increased every year until finally I had seventy-seven workers that we trained. And we took half of them one week to Rumney to train them and then half of them another week. And some carried on three two-week Bible schools and some carried on as many as four Bible schools.
SHUSTER: And what was the geographic range...?
EVANS: All the cities and towns of all of New England over into New York, New Jersey and Long Island. Quite often there be...would be two churches that would unite, sometimes three in a town. So that often we had the majority of the children to give them real Bible study for two weeks, three hours a day. But we did have very fine, very well prepared hand work for the last period and it was a drawing card. And we had the children from four years of age through sixteen and had a department and had teachers well trained to take care of those older children. We feel that it is so important that the boys and girls of the teenage and earlier stay in Bible classes and learn and have Bible teaching adapted to their age. And I went to great lengths to try to help the teachers to understand that they should not tell the stories as the children had heard them year after year after year but many great truths...many great truths should be brought out in the...for those older boys and girls that were not mentioned when...for the children that were small. So I made workbooks for the teachers so that they would help to get this point across. And I talked about it each day when we were training...training them. We had many courses, but I believed in the great hymns of the Church as being very important for the children to have. Of course, a good many of these children were Sunday school children, but also in the cities a good many of them didn't go to Sunday school. We would select a great hymn of the Church (a different one each year) and teach at least two or three verses of that hymn so that they would be memorized and the children would be able to sing them in their homes.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that your work with the Fellowship was very varied.
SHUSTER: What...what else did you do besides...
EVANS: Well, through the winter...
SHUSTER: ...directing the vacation Bible schools?
EVANS: ...through the winter months I had supervision of the work of which I told you last time.
SHUSTER: The rural teachers.
EVANS: The teachers in the rural areas going to the public schools. I myself made the materials for those as well. And we had just a mimeograph machine, hand-run, on which to do all of that. So both throughout all the summer and during the winter, I was spending quite a good deal of time writing these courses and then mimeographing the materials. In the end we were making twelve thousand workbooks for the children for the different ages for the winter and twelve thousand for those of the summer, because we were teaching all together twenty-one thousand children. That took a good deal of time. And then I was supervising that work. During the summer months for quite a good many of the years I cared for the dining hall.
SHUSTER: What did that involve?
EVANS: Well, it...it involved doing all the buying. I bought at the open...at the beginning of the season for the camps, too, as well. We had a nice dining room for years at an annual home, where they had dining room service. Then we had a cafeteria style out on the grounds for the...for the people that wanted that. But Emmanual Home was usually filled with older people and the grounds with families or young people. We had four...four weeks of youth conference for quite a few years. We had Billy Graham there in the end and we had...Walter Smyth was there another year with someone else. We had...we had many of those youth leaders that were on the list of those that came for the youth conferences. And we filled a large building that...we had room for forty girls and forty boys and then overhead a room for sixty additional girls. We usually had more girls than boys. That was besides our camps. We had two large camps for the younger boys and girls on a bluff above the conference grounds. We had a boys camp on one side and a girls camp on the other. And then we built a dining hall that would seat a hundred...a hundred boys on one side, a hundred girls on the other, with the...with the dining room...the kitchen in between. And behind that we had an infirmary that we finally built that could care for any that might be ill, or even contagious disease.
SHUSTER: So how many people did you have to feed every day?
EVANS: It...well, it greatly varied. At first, I did the buying for the camps, but after the initial of the...for the season, the camps carried...cared for their own. But I did the buying for those...the people on the grounds. And for years, before that dining hall was built, they...they came to the dining hall on the grounds. You see, it was just a short walk for them to come from their camps down to the dining hall. And one side of the dining hall I used for the camps and the other side for the conference. But then the conferences grew so much that we finally moved the boys into another building down there. I still cared for them. I had charge of supervising the work of the...of the boys and girls. I often.... That worked in the dining hall. I often had...I had students from Wheaton [College] quite a bit there as a...as waitresses. And...and we were...we had a good opportunity because we...they tried to get the work done so they could attend one of the Bible studies in the morning and could attend the evening service. And it was a blessing to them. We had counselors for them so that they would have prayer with them at night and so forth. And I think it was often a very good training for some of the younger people. Sometimes they helped with the music. We very often had a choir of fifty to hundred on the platform and...and also perhaps instruments, an orchestra.
SHUSTER: Did you have other jobs, then, besides running the kitchen and...
EVANS: Well, throughout....
SHUSTER: ...and running the rural education and the daily vacation Bible school?
SHUSTER: It sounds like it was enough, but....
EVANS: Well, in the later years, I had to...we had to see that we had at least twenty thousand dollars (which was quite a good deal of money in those days) to run that work in the rural schools. And....
SHUSTER: Twenty thousand dollars a year?
EVANS: Yes, yes, twenty thousand a year. That was beside getting the cars that were needed. Each girl had to have a car and I gave them thorough training on how to change tires and put on chains and all that thing and how to look after oil and the gas and that sort of thing. In the country in those days, the roads were unpaved and...largely and...the country road that they would travel, and they needed to know how to do those things. And so they had practical experience. And I made a little handbook for them to take with them that would tell them when to make the changes and not...so that they wouldn't abuse their cars. I had to teach several of them to...how to drive. Well, then during the winter months I had moving pictures. I had silent films when there were only silent films and.... First it was to show the...the...the children running out to greet the teacher and to take in the Bibles and hymnbooks and so on. Then it got to be so that I wanted...we wanted to have a story. It was in the early days of Christian film. There were practically none that you could name in those days. And so my niece helped, my niece Helen Evans who is now a missionary in Indonesia. She helped us to prepare one, the life story of a young...of a girl who had given her heart to the Lord in the schools there and had gotten much spiritual help going to our Camp Hope each year. That was the camp for the boys and girls who had learned three hundred verses of scripture during the year and had gotten their free week at camp at Rumney before the regular conference season began. And that Camp Hope was a tremendous help spiritually, because the counselors, you see, had a chance to speak personally with every one of those children. In the end (I think the last year I had charge of it) there were three hundred and twenty-five of those rural children that had learned the verses of scripture and had had a chance to come to camp. Two hundred and eighty-five came because [chuckles] measles broke out in one or two of the schools, so we cared for that. And during the year, I went into many of the churches. I had a car and this equipment and when we made the life story of this girl and showed her waving as she was going off to Gordon College to prepare to be a missionary, it was quite an effective film.
SHUSTER: You took the film with you as you visited the churches?
EVANS: And I took it to the churches. And that girl is a missionary in northern Thailand...
SHUSTER: What is her name?
EVANS: ...under OMF [Overseas Missionary Fellowship]. Oh, dear. Betty...[pauses]. I wouldn't have failed to know if you hadn't asked me. I pray for her every week for..in her work.
SHUSTER: Who actually...?
EVANS: And she's done a very great work there.
SHUSTER: Who actually made this film? Was it a film company?
SHUSTER: Or did you make it yourself.
EVANS: No, we made it ourselves. I think Dr. Wright might have given us a little help on it because he was always interested in every sort of thing and always knew more about it than almost anyone else around. But I had a movie picture projector and I had a moving picture camera and I think we made it with that. And...and it was quite effective because it was so different from the usual. Then, during the year, besides going into the churches to show this, I would give a gospel message also as well. And...and I did that a good deal before we even had that work. Also Dr. Wright felt it would be very helpful to take a survey of many of the counties of the different states to show the spiritual condition so that he could show it to the Christian people to realize the need that there was for a real evangelistic effort among...in the churches and so on. And so I would visit county by county and town by town all the pastors that were in those...and get the number of Catholic churches or any other churches and then the number of people who belonged to those churches and how many attended and so on and the population of that area, so that we would have quite a bit of information about it. I did that in many counties of Vermont and New Hampshire and Maine and finally another worker, Dorothy Serringer[?], carried that on later. And we did that of a great part of New England, especially in those early years, so that we could present that to the Christian people so that they would realize that...the dearth of spiritual life that there was.
SHUSTER: Did you do that every year?
EVANS: No, we just...we did it...we...we may have done it for several years, but it was always in a new territory. We never went back to the same territory. But I myself had prepared courses on per...soul winning, personal evangelism and on the Old Testament. I felt that most of the church people in the churches didn't know much about the Old Testament and I had a course that I prepared of about six to eight weeks...six to eight [pauses] possibilities of one...one night a week, perhaps, giving this course in the churches. And I had mimeographed materials that I passed out and they studied and we studied together. Then I had personal soul winning campaigns and.... We began with a canvass of an area. For instance, the...Roxbury is a suburb (part of, really) of Boston, but it was a town by itself. And that's one of the first that we did, in connection with the Advent Christian denomination that had a church in that area. And first we would...I would have readings of...of the deepening of the Christian life and then how to go to this personal work on the own. And we took a census of every home in the area. We gave out Gospels of John in the homes and tracts. So that every home would have something of that sort, whether we ministered further to them or not. And...and we had a card that we would ask questions about: where they went to church or where they didn't [chuckles], how many children and who the children were, the ages. So that in the end we could...we could have a second visit and if they were not going to some other church, we could have people from the...from the churches that were participating in this census go to these people and invite them. For instance, there would be young people that were going nowhere to church, so we would have a group of young people from the church or churches ride in a car with me to the homes of some of those young people to invite them personally to go...to come to church, tell them that they would meet them at the door or stop by and pick them up. We had the teachers do the follow-up work. Where there were Cradle Roll [age] children, get them in the Cradle Roll. That was a great evangelistic effort, you know, especially for young married couples that were not going to church. Then we had also...we would have those of the various ages and then we would try to train workers that would really get down to the business of trying...trying to lead them to the Lord in their own homes. We had a little difficulty in that.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
EVANS: Because some of the churches were not...did not have enough people that could do it. I had evangelistic meetings in some of the smaller churches during the early years of my ministry up there. They'd ask me to come and...and give them a series of evangelistic meetings. Of course, it was largely for the revival of the Christians but I always gave messages also for the unsaved. And...and perhaps some would come forward. And the pastor would ask me to deal with them because he didn't know how. Now that was the condition we had there in New England.
SHUSTER: When you were recruiting women to...for the rural...Sunday School rural education program that you were leading, what kind of qualities did you look for?
EVANS: I would...when I went to a...a school (like Columbia Bible College, for instance), I'd speak in the chapel and tell about the work and ask for those who were at all interested for...for an interview. And then I would arrange for fifteen minutes per person right through the day and I would let them know so that they could go on with classes 'til their period came. The understanding was that they could be excused from class for that fifteen minute period. And I would bring them in and I would have them make out a registration and give quite a little information and...and put in some references. I would also talk with the people of the school, especially the dean of the school, about each one of them. Usually there would be about thirty or thirty-one that would come to talk with me in the course of a day. And I myself would ask the Lord to help me to appraise them. And I would make a notation of my impression of them as I talked with them for that fifteen minutes and had them talk. I went to one smaller school where the dean didn't know any better than come and sit and answer those questions. [laughs] I had quite a time that day, trying to....
SHUSTER: He answer the question for the...?
EVANS: He answ...I would ask the young person the question because I wanted to get an idea of that young person, you know, and the way they answered and the light in their eyes and their alertness and many other qualities I could see from...from the expression on their face and how they answered. I wanted to know if they had...if their speech was alright [chuckles] but this dean answered all those questions. I tried to escape it any way I could, but that's the only time that ever happened. I always had a private interview. And then I would pray about it a great deal and they had a chance to pray about it and send in that reference (they didn't give it to me that day) with a picture and then I would...I would talk with the dean afterwards or the president whoever, about all those that I had called, what their opinion was of their ability. I was especially after graduat...graduating people but I would take those that had not for summer work. For winter work they had to be graduates.
SHUSTER: Sure. What qualities were you looking for?
EVANS: Well, leadership ability for one thing, because they were to be supervisors of the schools. A depth of spiritual life, ability to adapt because they would be staying in homes of all kinds and sizes during the two weeks while they were doing that. And they had to have leadership ability because they were to be the leaders, the two leaders. And they...one would have charge of the intermediate department, the other of the junior department, and they would supervise the people of the local church that were also helping and that were taking the primary and the small children to give them a good deal of help. And they had to be people that were...were capable and usually they...usually they were very capable, the ones that.... Then with their week's...week's training that I gave them, you see, at Rumney before they started out, they knew just what they were to teach each day and they knew the...the various subjects that were to be brought up and how to do these things. I taught them how to lead the choruses, for instance, and the motion songs and the...the special points of the lessons and things of that sort. And they...they passed out material also to the local people so that they would have help in that.
SHUSTER: Did the fact that you were a woman effect in any way your ministry?
EVANS: [laughs] Oh, I didn't see that it did, no. They needed everyone, you know. We all were workers.
SHUSTER: Who else was on the staff of the Fellowship?
EVANS: Katherine was...was the bookkeeper but she was also....
SHUSTER: That's your sister.
EVANS: My sister. She was also registrar for the...for the conferences and for the...and often went with the...some of the speakers or attended if there was a...a week of meetings, a Bible conference or something. She was often there at the book table. She...she became the office manager when we finally had perhaps five girls at the office that were working. And...and cared for the bookkeeping for as long as she was with us, sixteen years. She was the very first worker and then I was the second. And there were only the two of us for some time 'til the work got well established and...and 'til we had funds sufficient to engage others. We used the...for instance for the summer months, after the war [World War II] we had quite a few young men. We had even married couples going out in the summer and the young men we sent to rural areas and there we provided them with equipment so that they could keep house for themselves. Sometimes they did it in the church, sometimes they did it in the tent that we provided, sometimes the church people, the people of the community.... Lived in closed churches to quite an extent. We began that with Gordon student during the war too as well, because they responded to the appeal to...to go out to the rural areas where the churches were closed or where they had no churches. God blessed their efforts. Some of them are pastors to this day, some of them were missionaries. We had...we had...the radio ensemble was started at quite an early time. I think it was about 1932 that Dr. Wright began to gather those that had musical ability. I remember two workers, Withermalls[?]. He was a preacher in a church, a Baptist church in Lynne and she was quite capable with a cello. Both of them sang. He...he...could sing also and lead singing and preach. And they went out in evangelistic work together for several years with us. But she helped in the early days of the radio ensemble and her sister, who had just graduated from Nyack Missionary Institute, was very good at mezzo soprano and also at making the mezzo soprano part, for...which does not appear in the music in most books. And she played the violin and sang that. Then we got another girl, who was...was a very fine soprano, very capable of very high notes, too. Could do the obligato and so on. And then, sometimes a very famous violinist or...or a tenor soloist who was very good.... I think I described that somewhat the last time.
EVANS: And they went out in evangelistic meetings and play...to many places where...where we would never be asked to send an evangelist, the churches that wanted just a program of that sort that Dr. Wright was able to put on.
SHUSTER: What...what was Dr. Wright's involvement with radio?
EVANS: From the very first he was very, very keenly interested in it. I think they probably had one of the first crystal sets in the country. [chuckles]
SHUSTER: You mean his family did?
EVANS: Yes, he and his family. And...and he always had a good radio, a good...good victrola (I remember the kind that turned) with very good records. He was always interested in music. And he was very much taken with the opportunity that people had in those days to...to have...to have speakers and singers and programs of that sort free of charge. The Middlebury radio was just starting up in Vermont. The Provident...the...the Portsmouth radio was just starting. Some of the others were in the early days. I remember we sang and played on the Miami station, that's probably the largest in Miami in those early days. That would be about in '31, 1931. They were...they were very glad to have these programs and they gave an opportunity to give the Gospel, you see, along with the music, to a wide variety of people throughout all of New England over and over again. So for twenty-five years the New England Fellowship had daily programs on rad...different radio stations, sometimes two or three at a time, at different hours.
SHUSTER: Do you, perchance, have any recordings of any of those programs?
EVANS: I have no idea whether any of them were kept. I very much doubt that they were. There was not much recording done in those days.
SHUSTER: Do you've any recordings at all of Dr. Wright's speaking?
EVANS: I don't remember ever hearing of any. Maybe in the later years, but there...there was very little of that during those early years.
SHUSTER: I'd like to.... You gave me a very complete list of some of the speakers of Rumney conference...
SHUSTER: ...and I'd like just to mention some of these names and have you describe what you remember about them.
EVANS: Well, you name the person. [chuckles]
SHUSTER: Okay. Start with Dr. Howard Taylor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. No, I'm sorry, of the China Inland Mission.
EVANS: Dr. and Mrs. Taylor came and we remember how he was a quiet man. I think he was a physician. as I remembered it, and he was a speaker. She was spending most of her time either resting or she was writing. She was not to well. She was a good speaker, she was an excellent writer, of course. Wrote the...wrote her father-in-law's life and (Hudson Taylor) [founder of the China Inland Mission] and other books. She was writing at that time to a degree. They both spoke about the work of the China Inland Mission and they were very good at doing so.
SHUSTER: When you say they were very good, in what way?
EVANS: Well, in...in showing up the principles of the OMF [Overseas Missionary Fellowship, the current name of what used to be called the China Inland Mission]. They...I think one thing that was very evident was, they went into the interior continually and worked in the interior.
SHUSTER: The mission did.
EVANS: Yes, the mission did. And so they would tell the principles on which it was operating and the faith that did not ask for money but asked God for the money, things of that sort they brought out.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that he was a quiet man?
EVANS: Yes, he was.
SHUSTER: What...what did you mean by that?
EVANS: Well, I mean that...I mean that he was a man...a thoughtful man. His...his voice was not very strong. He...he would state facts in a matter of fact way. He was interesting, very interesting and informative. But he was not a ball of fire by any means. [chuckles]
SHUSTER: What about F. Carlton Booth?
EVANS: Well, he was a...tremendous. He was a very good friend. It was a very sad thing that happened in early relations with him. Because Katherine was...was going quite steadily with Richard Oliver and it was Carlton who was driving when Oliver was killed. He made a little bond which was stronger with our family, I think, as a result of the connection because sometimes Katherine went with Richard and Carlton and his wife. He was in charge of the musical program...the music department and the evangelism department of...of Providence Bible Institute. Richard was in charge of the...was dean of the evening school, was a wonderful soul winner, a good practical sort of a...a speaker and an excellent musician, both with piano and organ and a writer of hymns. The kind of a spiritual man that could play tennis with a backslider and bring it...lead him back to the Lord. He did that with the son of a very prominent preacher.
SHUSTER: What...what actually happened in the accident that...
SHUSTER: ...took his life?
EVANS: ...truck caught the back part and turned it over on Richard's head.
SHUSTER: Was that...I imagine Booth, too, must have been hospitalized.
EVANS: No, he wasn't, he wasn't hurt. I think perhaps he was thrown. I'm not sure. But Richard was caught by the....by the.... It made a great void there in the...in the school, so the evangelism department that Richard had been taking Carlton took over, as I remember. And he would come very often to Rumney for a good part of the summer as the song leader for a week and even for a month he was...he was there. And very often, almost every year for many years, for a week or two he would come and lead the singing and perhaps give a course in music to our school of methods or something of that sort in Rumney. His family would be there with him and then in the winter time Dr. Wright would arrange with Howard Ferrin, the president at the...of Providence Bible Institute, and Carlton Booth to have special meetings. And Dr. Wright'd do a good part of the spade work for preparing for them in different cities and where they would have the meetings in the earlier years of their ministry and...and use them in that way for evangelistic meetings, weekend meetings or entirely...entire week meetings.
SHUSTER: What about Bob Jones Senior and Bob Jones Junior. What kind of speakers were they?
EVANS: Quite different.
SHUSTER: From each other?
EVANS: Yes. Bob Jones Senior was an evangelist type. He talked a great deal about his preacher boys at...at Bob Jones [University] and he would tell what he taught his preacher boys and what his preacher boys must preach. He was good as an evangelistic speaker and he was as good a...a Bible teacher of a...according to his methods. His son was quite a little different from him. His son was more scholarly. His son was more inclined to use illustrations that would...would be.... I don't want to say more refined because Bob Jones Senior was certainly not cu...uncouth or anything of that sort but they were entirely different types, in a way and both of them....
SHUSTER: Can you think of an example?
EVANS: We used Bob Jones Junior quite a good bit longer and more than we did Bob Jones Senior. For one thing, I think Bob Jones Senior as an older man probably had more duties at home and couldn't spare the time. And then our circuits were quite strenuous. They traveled in a morning to the next place and often had afternoon meetings and evening meetings and went to sleep in that town and then went...drove many, many miles to the next one, sometimes even going on trains or buses. But Dr. Wright took many of the speakers, but when we finally had four great circuits, one covering a good deal of Maine, along the coast and clear up into the interior, another across southern New Hampshire and over into Vermont and another one in Massachusetts and another one in New York state, it went clear across New York state finally with these fine speakers that we got from all parts of the country and sou...and southern Connecticut, which is a very needy state. You asked a question, I don't remember what.
SHUSTER: Well, I was saying if you thought of some examples of Bob Jones Senior's illustrations?
EVANS: I don't think that I could do that very well. I think he'd take a Bible character, usually, and develop a message from that and show the fallacies and the high points and so forth. Bob Jones Junior might take more of an exposition of a subject or topical subject or something of that sort. I think that that would be the difference to quite an extent.
SHUSTER: How would you describe them as people, as individuals?
EVANS: [chuckles] Hail fellow, well met, you know, for Bob Jones Senior. [For Bob Jones Junior] At least your equal or your superior intellectually, culturally, in refinement and so forth. A very interesting person. I remember we were in the habit of taking our lunch to the office in Boston. One day he said, "I'll...I'll prepare some Italian spaghetti if you...if you would get the materials together tomorrow, I would come in and prepare you some." "Oh," we said, "that would be a wonderful change." And it quite tickled us, because he wasn't that type. He put on an apron and he did make us some very fine Italian spaghetti that day. [chuckles]
SHUSTER: That was Bob Jones Senior?
EVANS: It was Bob Jones Junior. You wouldn't think he was that type. But he...he was a good family man, but also intellectual. He didn't give an intellectual message, he gave a spiritual message, but it would be in a different way. Bob Jones was a typical (the Senior) a typical evangelist. Bob Jones Junior was more of a Bible teacher.
SHUSTER: What about R. G. LeTourneau?
EVANS: Dr. Wright...Dr. Wright encouraged him to begin to begin to be a speaker. He went with him several times on his plane. And he...Dr...R. G. LeTourneau might spend quite a little of his time drawing his next invention, because of course he...he was an inventor of heavy material, his tremendous outfits with earth moving...earth moving material. He was that type of man. He was not a man of very great education. He...he was a hard sho...hitting man, you might say, on being dedicated to the Lord. As a layman, his message would be that. And so Dr. Wright would engage him to go around and...and...and have men's meetings, perhaps, or have meetings for the general public that would be aimed for scaring people up to work for the Lord. That was true of Charles Cranells who was a...who was a...a...a ship merchant, was a...and a...finally a millionaire and yet had a tremendous urge for personal soul winning. And so clever in his contacts with people. It seemed as though it was just natural for him in some way to ask the man about his spiritual state or tell him the way of salvation or things of that sort. Letourneau was a little of that sort and Dr. Wright used them both, more to stir the men to do something. He had men's meeting for them or things of that sort as well as for the general public.
SHUSTER: We're at the very end of this tape, so we'll take a break here for a second while I get us the next one.
END OF TAPE