a billy graham center
archives exhibit
 back to
on to 
Select chronology of the 1949 Los Angeles campaign


Christ for Greater Los Angeles Committee, Inc., formed by the Christian Business Men’s Committee of Los Angeles to serve as the organizational basis for a city-wide non-denominational evangelistic campaign (also called a union campaign), led by Hyman J. Appelman.


The Appelman campaign was held in the fall at the corner of Washington and Hill. After the campaign, the Committee voted to continue in existence to sponsor similar city-wide and smaller union evangelistic efforts. The Committee's efforts in 1945-1949 are listed below.

Early 1945

Union meeting sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles held in Roosevelt High School on the east side of Los Angeles.

Fall 1945

Union meeting sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles held at 88th and Figueroa Streets in Los Angeles.

Fall 1945

Union meeting sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles held in Huntington Park.

October 8, 1945

Youth Rally sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles held in the Hollywood Bowl, with speaker Jack Shuler. According to the Los Angeles Examiner, 18,000 attended. and there were 1000 decisions for Christ.


Three different union meetings sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles held in Lincoln Heights, Inglewood and Santa Monica, all with Joe Hankins as evangelist.


Armin Gesswein begins the Ministers Prayer Fellowship for Revival, a monthly meeting of clergy to pray for spiritual renewal. Attendance slowly builds over the years.


Hollywood Bowl Youth Rally sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles , with Percy Crawford as speaker.


Union meetings sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles in Lincoln Heights and North Hollywood.


City-wide evangelistic campaign sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles at the corner of Adams and Grand with Charles Templeton and Merv Rosell as evangelists.

June 21, 1947

Youth Rally, held jointly by the the Committee and Youth for Christ, in the Hollywood Bowl, with Billy Graham as evangelist.


Union meetings sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, El Monte, and Covina.


City-wide evangelistic campaign sponsored by Christ for Greater Los Angeles at the corner of Adams and Grand led by Jack Shuler. ($3,500 left over from the funds for these meetings was carried over for use during the 1949 meetings led by Billy Graham.)

September 1948

Pacific Palisades Conference, led by Armin Gesswein and J. Edwin Orr, brings together many clergy and Christian workers of the region to pray for revival.

Late 1948, early 1949

The Committee starts negotiations with Billy Graham to come to Los Angeles to lead a city-wide meeting. Graham insists that the budget for the meeting be increased to $25,000 to allow for a much greater advertising budget (eventually a budget of approximately $30,000 was decided on), that the actual arrangements be handled by a committee of the city’s clergy, and that a larger tent for the event be rented. Widely varying statistics are reported, but at least 300 churches pledge to support the meetings, although many others are indifferent.

January 1949

Orr and Gesswein, sponsored by the Committee, lead some sixty prayer meetings around the city over the next nine months.

January 1949

Pastors retreat at Camp Iduhupi in Minnesota, lead by Orr.

February? 1949

Graham speaks at the South Hollywood Presbyterian Church.

March 1949

Pacific Palisades prayer conference, led by Orr and Gesswein, with Harold J. Ockenga as a speaker as well.

April 1949

Awakening on the campus of Bethel College in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

July 1949

Young adults conference, led by Mears, results in the formation of the Hollywood Christian Group.

Ca. Mid-August

The site the Committee plans to use for the meetings is not available because of zoning regulations. An alterative site is found at the corner of Washington and Hill, where the Committee had sponsored a campaign in 1944.

August 15

First meeting (Trinity Methodist Church, 12th and Flower) to train volunteers from churches who would serve as counselors during campaign. The Navigators, a Christian discipleship group led by Dawson Trotman, play a large part in recruiting and training counselors.

Late-August 1949

Graham attends College Briefing Conference at the Forest Home Conference Center in the San Bernadino Mountains, just about a month before the beginning of the Los Angeles campaign. He is one of the speakers, along with Dick Halverson, Henrietta Mears, Louis Evans, Bob Munger, Charles Templeton and others. Here he reaches the end of what had been an ongoing crisis of faith, surrenders himself to the Holy Spirit and renews his commitment to the Bible as the inspired word of God.

First week of September

Billy and Ruth Graham take a vacation in northern Minnesota to relax and prepare for the Los Angeles meetings.

September 1949

Just before the meetings start, Armin Gesswein and J. Edwin Orr hold a prayer conference to pray for the campaign.

Graham and his associates stay at the Langham Hotel during the campaign, although later he stays at a nearby apartment house to apparently avoid the crowds that begin to dog him toward the end of the meetings.

ca. Sept. 11

Grady Wilson arrives in Los Angeles to help with the preparation for the meetings. He organizes prayer chains of men and women to pray for the campaign around the clock.

September 24

 Mayor Fletcher Bowron of Los Angeles endorses the campaign; the Committee sponsors a welcoming breakfast for Graham, attended by several hundred ministers.

September 25

The campaign begins.

October 7

Ruth Graham arrives in Los Angeles.

October 15?

The decision is made by Graham and the Committee to continue the meetings for another week.

October 16

Original termination date for campaign.

October 17

Stuart Hamblen, popular local radio personality, goes to Graham’s hotel room after meeting on the 17th during the very early morning and is converted there. Graham had earlier spoken at the Hollywood Christian Group that Hamblen attended. Graham had also been a guest on Hamblen’s radio program.

ca. October 18

Church Federation of Los Angeles announces its support for the meetings.

ca. October 24

The Hearst papers the Examiner and the Herald Express begin to give much more prominent coverage to the meetings, with other papers in the city and around the country also printing more stories. Reporters tell Graham that he has been “kissed by William Randolph Hearst,” who is supposed to have told his editors to “Puff Graham.”

Late October

Revival at Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.

October 31

Mrs. Louis Zamperini gives her life to Christ during meeting.

November 1

Louis Zamperini spoke at the meeting about renewal of his faith.

November 2

First nationwide Associated Press story about the campaign appears; Harvey L. Fritts, local television star, comes forward at meeting.

November 4


Supportive editorial about campaign appears in the Hearst papers.

Evangelist Charles Fuller participates in the service.

November 6

Jim Vaus attends the Sunday evening service with his wife Alice. Both came forward at the altar call after counselor Bill Schofield prayed with him.

November 8

Graham's birthday (November 7) is celebrated during the service, the campaign's largest crowd, about 15,000, are in attendance.

November 12

Jim Vaus attempts to arrange a meeting between Graham and local racketeer Mickey Cohen to talk about salvation; Stuart Hamblen gives his testimony at YFC rally in Minneapolis.

November 13

The week is designated “Pastors’ Week” in the campaign. Each day a local pastor will deliver a message.

November 14

November 14

Article about Graham and the Los Angeles meetings in Time's “Sickle Ready for the Harvest.”

Stuart Hamblen addresses a YFC rally in Minneapolis, where Graham was president of Northwestern Schools.

November 16

Article in Life, “A Rising Young Evangelist.”

November 17

Pastors breakfast is held at the at Alexandria Hotel. It is intended as a kind of wrap up on the meetings for the city’s clergy. Five hundred ministers and Christian workers attend. Scheduled for one hour, it lasts four.

November 20

Campaign ends. An estimated 400 clergymen are on the platform for the final service, facing a crowd of about 11,000. An exhausted Billy and Ruth Graham, T. W. Wilson, and Cliff and Billie Barrows leave the city by train immediately after the service.

November 21


Article in Life, “A Rising Young Evangelist.”

Louis Zamperini addresses a YFC rally in Minneapolis.

November 22

Graham arrives back in Minneapolis.

 back to
on to 
© 2009
 Notice: This exhibit is for the enjoyment and education of the users of the BGC Archives Website.   Material in it is protected by copyright and any use, publication or copying is strictly prohibited   without written permission.