Billy Graham Center

The materials on this page are intended solely for the edification of our viewers and cannot be copied or otherwise reused without permission.


[Report on the first and only year of Graham's pastorate from the September 1944 newsletter of the Village Church. Click on the icons below to see the actual pages of the newsletter.]

Back to Village Church Page


Torrey Johnson to Bring Message

One of the most intimate friends and one of the greatest boosters of The Village Church is Rev. Torrey Johnson of the Midwest Bible Church. Not only is he pastor of one of Chicago’s largest congregations but he is director of the largest Youth for Christ movement in America. It is to a large extent, due to the encouragement of this dynamic radio preacher, that The Village Church and its program for reaching lost men, has progressed. It was this young man who voluntarily gave to us his popular radio program “Songs in the Night.” We are indeed grateful to him and his loyal staff for their help and encouragement. And it is a great privilege to have him as our speaker for the Radio Rally.

Backed up by the prayers of the mere handful of members (some 75 in all) and a faith which sought glory only for Him, The Village Church since Rev. Graham’s arrival in July of 1943 has experienced amazing results . . . results which seem fantastic, yet true. The many steps of faith which have been taken during the past year could not have been realized except for the prayerful and financial support of the members and friends of The Village Church. Small in physical si at present . . . a mere basement structure, the top of which will be added when war restrictions are removed . . . The Village Church is now known to literally millions as a place where the simple, fundamental Gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s plan for salvation are ably presented in song and in the spoken word of Pastor Graham.

“Songs in the Night,” a three quarter hour program on Sunday evenings was undertaken on January 1. Line charges had to be, met . . . also the bills for time which arrive weekly. However the Lord has met the need . . . many times to the exact dollar. In the matter of talent, some of America’s leading and best known singers have been heard from week to week: Beverly Shea, who liked Western Springs so well that he and Mrs. Shea bought a home in this village; The Village Carollers; and others such as Ponzi Pennington, John Mostert, Martha Cowan, Helen McAlerny Barth, Winifred Larson, Ambassador Quartet, Anne King Blocker, J. Stratton Shufeldt, Cecil Thomas and several more have appeared whose talents have been dedicated to the singing of His praises.

The monthly publication “Songs in the Night” is another new venture to acquaint listeners with the activities of The Village Church. This paper presents news of coming events, inspirational articles, messages by Pastor Graham, letters from listeners and the oft quoted truisms of “De Deacon Sez.”

The church auditorium has been completely renovated and modernized. A new composition flooring has been laid. A pipe organ as well as a Hammond organ has been installed all during the past year. These items seemed impossible to obtain in wartime. Nevertheless the Lord previously in a marvelous way.

A missionary program was launched and two of its members Maxine Bates in Nigeria, Africa and Helen Prestidge Howard in Ecuador, South America receive their full support from The Village Church. Partial support is provided for several other missionaries in other fields throughout the world.

A new door was opened through the means of radio when station WMBI offered its facilities to broadcast the Sunday morning services of The Village Church during the months of March and April. Much blessing came to listeners as was evidenced by the many letters which were received.

The Sunday School has tripled its enrollment since Pastor Graham’s arrival. The Child Evangelism class which meets every Wednesday afternoon after school during the fall, winter and spring months is said to be the largest in the entire Chicago area. A Boys Brigade also functions and some 40 boys meet every week under competent, Christian leadership for games, military drill, talks, handicraft and other activities of interest to real boys.

The West Suburban Men’s Fellowship was started and you’ll read about the amazing growth of this organization in another column of this issue of “Songs in the Night” [see below for this article] Christians in the area have been thrilled and brought closer to their Master as a result of Rev. Graham’s ministry. Many souls have been won . . . attendance is growing and the Lord is blessing in a marvelous way.

And for the future, God has plans and will continue to answer prayer. A book store is contemplated where Christian literature, stationery and gifts will be sold; a new structure over the present one to meet the urgent needs for larger and more adequate facilities; a new radio program over powerful stations in the South; a new realization of the need for Christ in this area and among the audience reached by the radio, pulpit and written word . . . are some of the things which The Village Church and its friends can realize through Him and for His honor.

[another article on the same page]


Just an idea a year ago in the minds of three men . . . today, the most-looked-forward-to monthly event in the lives of several hundred; the West Suburban Men’s Fellowship is another undertaking which God has marvelously blessed. So successful has been this project, that men from other localities have come to see and have returned thrilled with the possibilities of starting similar organizations in their own communities. Several such groups are now operating and more are scheduled to begin.

The West Suburban Men’s Fellowship meets at approximately monthly intervals at The Old Spinning Wheel one of the best known eating places in the Middle West and located on Odgen Avenue at the western boundary of Western Springs. I)inner is served in the atmosphere of early America and many lasting friendships among the men in the area have been formed as a result of these meetings. Group singing is directed by Beverly Shea, who also has sung a number of solos. The Ambassador Quartet, Don Hustad, Hugh Seffens, Cecil Thomas, Reuel Johnson and other musical talent have appeared from time to time. Phil Foxwell, eminent Christian magician has also entertained and mystified the men. Efforts are made to bring the nations most outstanding speakers to the Fellowship. This has been successsful [sic] as such speakers as Dr. Edman, president of Wheaton College, James E. Bennet, New York attorney, Dr. Walter Maier of radio’s famed Lutheran Hour, Dr. Bob Jones Jr., acting president of Bob Jones College and Vaughn Shoemaker, chief cartoonist for the Chicago Daily News and Pulitzer prize winner, have brought inspiring and thought-provoking messages at the meetings of the past year

The 1944-45 season will be inaugurated on Tuesday evening, September 26, when James E. Bennet will return to address the West Suburban Men’s Fellowship. Mr. Bennet is well known from coast to coast as the successful attorney in the famous suit against the Bible which made the front pages of newspapers throughout the country several years ago. He is an outstanding speaker, sparkling with wit. Dinner will be served at seven in the same location as last season. Tickets can be obtained at $1.90 each from The Village Church.

Return to BGC Archives Home Page

Last Revised: June 1, 2010
Expiration: indefinite

© Wheaton College 2017