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January 2008: Homer Rodeheaver on Billy Sunday


From Photo File: Sunday, Billy - Co-workers

Postcard from 1915 showing some of the leading staff members of Billy Sunday's evangelistic campaigns. The staff staff varied over time, but the key people stayed with Sunday for many years. Postcards of the staff, the tabernacle, Sunday preaching and other pictures were sold at the bookstore that was part of the wooden tabernacle or auditorium which was build for every campaign. Top row - Grace Saxe (Bible teacher), Rodeheaver, Helen Sunday (wife of Billy Sunday and the general manager of his meetings); middle row - B. D. Ackley (pianist), Sunday, Florence Miller (Bible class teacher, leader of meetings of businesswomen and secretaries that met in the city where Sunday held his campaigns); bottom row - Fred Siebert (personal worker who helped trained to counselors who talked to the people who came forward to accept Christ at the end of an evangelistic service), Virginia Asher (director of extension work and of the businesswomen meetings), John Wallace Welch (advance man, who helped make the arrangement for Sunday to hold a meeting in a city)

For almost twenty years, Homer Rodeheaver was right hand man to famed American evangelist Billy Sunday. Rodeheaver played popular hymns on his trombone (often accompanied by pianist B. D. Ackley), led the choir and the audience in popular revival songs and generally served as master of ceremonies, overseeing every part of the service except the preaching. So, except for the evangelist's wife Helen, he was the best witness to talk about Billy Sunday and his meetings, especially in the time of their greatest impact form about 1920 to 1920.

Click here to go to a link to an audio recording of a service at the Billy Sunday Tabernacle in Winona Lake, Indiana, USA held on August 9, 1953, about eighteen years after Billy Sunday's death. Winona Lake was the home of Sunday and of Rodeheaver during most of their adult lives and also the site of the successful religious music company Rodeheaver started after he left Sunday's campaign ministry. The 1953 service was apparently part of a conference on Sacred Music being held at the tabernacle which was part of the Winona Lake Assemble Grounds, headed by J. Palmer Muntz (See Collection 108.) Rodeheaver led singing of popular songs from the Sunday meetings, such as Brighten the Corner Where You Are and the Prohibition ditty, The Brewers' Big Horses Won't Run Over Me, played his trombone (sometimes accompanied by Ackley), raised money for the Tabernacle, and reminisced about Sunday's life and his influence. The original recording is on two audio cassettes, T5 and T6 in Collection 108.


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Last Revised: 01/01/08
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Wheaton College 2007