Every month, this Bulletin Board will highlight a new document or set of documents that are available in the Archives. These are intended solely for the edification of our viewers and cannot be copied or otherwise reused without permission. Come on over and have a look!
In 2015, the Archival Bulletin Board is turning onto a silver screen. Each month of the year we will be displaying a rare film from our vault, all featuring some aspect of the history of Christian evangelism.
Thanks to Bruce Knowlton of Wheaton College's Academic and Media Technology for his invaluable help in putting together this film festival.
This month's selection in our year-long archival film festival is a promotional video highlighting Youth for Christ's national convention held in Washington, D.C. in July 1988.
From its opening voiceover – a quotation from Abraham Lincoln descrying America's spiritual malaise – to its impressive aerial shots of the nation's capital, this 13-minute promotional video provides a brief glimpse into American evangelical youth culture of the 1980s. The so-called D.C. '88 convention attempted to build on the success of Youth Congress '85, co-hosted by Youth for Christ (YFC) and Campus Crusade, and drawing over 13,000 young people to the nation's capital for training in Christian evangelism. The enthusiastic response to Youth Congress '85 encouraged YFC to launch a solo conference three years later. This promo film features glowing testimonials from Youth Congress '85 attendees and paints a compelling portrait of coming attractions for D.C. '88, including an impressive line-up of Christian speakers, recording artists such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael Card and Petra (accompanied by fog machines), and sightseeing opportunities.
This brief promotional film is notable for exhibiting a nationalistic fervor consistent with the prominence of the Moral Majority in the final decades of the twentieth century. The video's solemn narration points out that YFC's choice of Washington D.C. as a convention site is not accidental. As convention speakers underscore, the historic setting should remind attendees of their “rich spiritual history” and invigorate them to return the nation to its Christian roots through a robust personal piety and dedication to sharing the Christian faith with unbelievers. Alongside conference promoters Ken Davis and Buster Soaries, author and speaker Ron Hutchcraft urges attendees to remember that “our freedom and our future depends [sic] on how closely we follow that God that the people who started this country so clearly believed in and were committed to.” The promo's fervent religious patriotism and glowing predictions for the future of Christianity in the United States are clearly outlined in the film's enthusiastic invitation: “From every corner of this country, from all over the world, young Christians will soon embark on a journey, a trip to find this nation's spiritual roots, an event that will shape lives, a moment in history that will change our world. Come with us. Together we'll experience D.C. '88!”
Materials from or about Youth for Christ have been featured in previous Bulletin Board displays. Click on the links below to view these exhibits:
November 1999: Youth for Christ Throughout the World
February 2006: Youth for Christ in Europe, 1946
October 2009: Ready for Take Off
October 2012: The Beginning of Billy Graham