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From 1922 to 1932, the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle (or Tab), under the leadership of Paul Rader, was one of the most dynamic ministries in the United States. This exhibit tells their story.

At the Tabernacle (often referred to as the Tab), a basic Fundamentalist Protestant theology was combined with a joyful view of the Christian life and full scale engagement of popular culture and modern technology. Rader and the staff he recruited combined vigorous preaching with a knowledge of American business practices and advertising techniques. They wanted to bring the Gospel to people who never went to church and developed programs for many different types and groups of people. The resulting independent church was the starting point of many ministries still active today. It was also a model for other nondenominational American evangelistic programs and independent churches, many of whom are perhaps unaware that they mirror the Tabernacle or of the part the Tabernacle played in their history.

This exhibit will show the vigor and variety of the Tabernacle's outreach and trace its influence into the present. Besides its many photos and documents, these bare bones will hopefully take on flesh and breath through the audio clips of interviews in which people recalled the glory days of the Tab.

Birth of the Tabernacle

Rader's 1921 summer evangelistic campaign in Chicago aroused such support and enthusiasm that he decided to turn it into a permanent ministry.

By 1921, Paul Rader had already been pastor of Moody Church in Chicago for seven years. They were years of vigorous urban evangelistic activity. At the same time he had become president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) denomination and was frequently away on preaching tours. The board of Moody Church began to fear that their church, proudly independent, was becoming a C&MA congregation. Rader's brashness and determination alienated some just as it drew others to him, and his frequent absences caused muttering. After meeting with the board, Rader resigned his pastorate at Moody and began to plan an independent ministry.

His first plan was to hold a summer-long series of meetings in New York City and he ordered a pre-formatted steel structure that could quickly be put up in a vacant lot to house the campaign. But plans in New York fell through and Rader planned a summer campaign in Chicago instead, where Barry and Halstead and Clark Streets met. The Big Steel Tent was hyped by radio and handbills and drew capacity crowds of over four thousand. At the end of the summer, the decision to continue the Tent as a permanent Tabernacle was easy to make. Rader was determined that there would be no ecclesiastical structure to hinder his work. (In 1923, the C&MA required him essentially to choose between the Tabernacle and the Alliance. After some vacillation, he chose the Tabernacle and resigned as president of the denomination.) The Tabernacle would have no members, no church governing board, and would report to no denominational hierarchy. Sunday services would be held in the afternoon so that people could go to their church services and then attend the Tabernacle. Rader had formed the Gospel Missionary Association to be the legal face of his ministry, of which the Tabernacle was the most public part. His principal financial supporter was and continued to be for the next decade businessman Albert M. Johnson, whose wife had come to know Christ through Rader's preaching at Moody Church.

By September 1922 the first services were held in the newly re-christened Chicago Gospel Tabernacle.

Rader the preacher

Paul Rader was one of the most powerful preachers of his day, a man who almost unthinkingly clothed the Gospel in modern words and slang.

Central to Rader's appeal was his preaching. His sermons were preached at the Tabernacle, over the radio, on street corners, in the downtown auditoriums he rented for men's-only meetings every Thanksgiving, at summer camp, at foreign mission stations, and at evangelistic campaigns around the country. He was also a frequent preacher at other churches. His language was simple and full of stories and images from everyday life. Although not as full of slang and acrobatics as Billy Sunday's, his style was meant to be as entertaining and attractive. The result was a Tabernacle that was always packed when he was in the pulpit. Using various ways and numerous personal anecdotes, Rader's sermons stressed the same topics over and over: God's great love for humanity, the need for every person to face up to his sin and be saved by Jesus Christ, and the importance of putting your Christian faith actively to work in your life and in the world around you.  


From the very beginning of the Tabernacle and even before, Rader pioneered the use of radio as an evangelistic tool.

Radio was still a new phenomenon to the world in 1922. The first amateur broadcasting intended for a wide audience had begun in 1919 and commercial broadcasting followed. The mayor of Chicago, William H. Thompson, started a station right in City Hall and needed to fill time. He offered Rader an opportunity to broadcast and Rader jumped at the chance. Before the Tabernacle had even opened, on June 22, 1922, Rader had broadcasted a program that included music and preaching. For the next three years he broadcast at infrequent intervals from different stations around the city before signing a contract with WHT in 1925 that gave him a regular broadcasting home. Most of the Tabernacle staff and many others were drawn into the various programs, which filled thirty to forty hours a week and appealed to many audiences: children, teenagers, music lovers, sports fans, businessmen and others. The size of the audience is hard to estimate, but it perhaps included hundreds of thousands at its peak, when, in addition to the transmissions from Chicago, Tabernacle programs were carried by CBS over a network of stations on the east coast. Like most early broadcasters, Rader used a variety of means to establish contact and cultivate an ongoing relationship with listeners to the Tabernacle's programs. Rader did not hesitate to use radio at a time when some ministers doubted whether a Christian should broadcast at all. His pioneering efforts were followed by many others. In particular, Clarence Jones, the father of missionary radio, served his apprenticeship under Rader. But of all the thousands of hours of broadcast which the Tabernacle sent out, only a few hours have been saved.


Rader was ardent in his efforts not just to evangelize but to encourage and train others to do so.

The example Rader set stimulated a new generation of leaders and was a direct influence on the explosion of evangelistic ministries in the United States after World War II such as Youth for Christ.

He was particularly eager to reach children, teenagers and young people. He brought young men like Clarence Jones and Lance Latham to the Tabernacle staff and encouraged them to go after boys and girls who had never seen the inside a church. A whole range of clubs and radio programs, and summer programs were developed, with catchy slogans and games and music to catch their interest. The Tabernacle's influence as a model can be seen in ministries to young people such as AWANA clubs and Youth for Christ.

Part of Rader's dream was of a nationwide network of laypeople who were living out and witnessing to their faith every day. In 1932 Rader began an ambitious program of stimulating grass roots evangelism. He organized the formation of small clubs of men and women that would meet together to study materials that trained them in Christian faith and evangelism. These World Wide Christian Courier clubs had elements of a fraternal order and of Bible studies, with emphasis on going out and witnessing to their faith. To become a Courier, a participant had to go through (and be tested on ) a series of lessons of Christian belief. As clubs recruited new members and grew, new groups split off. Conferences were held at the Tabernacle where the club members could tell about their experiences and encourage one another. And tabernacles were started in other cities that would be the centers for clubs in those communities.

The collapse of Rader's ministries in Chicago in 1933 destroyed the movement before it really got started. But his later ideas and methods for stimulating the people in the pews to share their faith were strikingly similar to those used by many Christian denominations and ministries today.


The Tabernacle program put great emphasis on Christian service in all its aspects, but especially on recruiting and supporting people to go to foreign lands to witness to the Gospel among non-Christians.

Every year a week-long missions conference would raise people's awareness about missions and often recruit new workers. The first meeting in 1922 raised $40,000. The last under Rader's leadership, during the Depression in 1932, raised almost $120,000. The Tabernacle supported over 150 missionaries around the world, including Rader's three daughters and his sister Katherine Rader Hawthorne. Twice Rader traveled around the world, visiting the missionaries supported by the Tab and preaching evangelistic campaigns in several countries. Associates such as Oswald Smith made similar trips. And it was at the Tab that many future mission leaders received inspiration and support, such as Peter Deyneka, Sr. (eastern Europe and Russia), Clarence Jones (Ecuador, missionary radio), and Paul Fleming (New Tribes Mission).


The staff of the Tabernacle brought youth and innovation to their tasks and took away lessons in Christian ministry that they used for the rest of their lives.

Rader recruited a variety of people to work at the Tabernacle and World Wide Christian Couriers, including other established evangelists and many young people. Some came as staff, others as volunteers. As Rader saw new possibilities and started a new ministries, he would often delegate responsibility for them to young staffers to develop with no micro management from Rader. Among the most influential workers Rader cultivated or collaborated with were Clarence Benson, Merrill Dunlop, C.I. Eicher, Howard Ferrin, W.B. Hogg, Clarence Jones, Howard Jones, Lance Latham, James Neilson, Richard J. Oliver, Oswald Smith, and Gerald Winrod. Also of great importance were Albert M. Johnson, Rader's principal financial backer, and his wife, Bessie Morris Johnson. Other staff included: Earnest Bishopp, Frederick J. Buck, Hall Dautel, Peter Deyneka, Sr., Virginia Latham, Mr. And Mrs. R. McNamara, Dan Pagenta, Jule Pletcher, Miss Sills, L.B. Tucker, Clarence Walron, and Ruth White.

Paul's brothers, Ralph and Luke also worked closely with him. Luke founded the Riverside Tabernacle in Minneapolis, which was associated with the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. Leah Rader, Luke's wife, was the soprano soloist at the Tabernacle before the Minneapolis church was started. His daughters Harriet, Williamine and Pauline also worked at the Tabernacle and later served as missionaries sponsored by it.

Fundamentalist & Ecumenical

A basic theology and a wide embrace of both people and methods were hallmarks of the Tabernacle.

Rader had an abiding distrust of denominational structures and a hatred of church politics. The statement of belief and faith drawn up for his Gospel Foundation in 1921 was simple in the extreme:

1. The inspiration and supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures

2. The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ; His incarnation; atoning death; bodily resurrection and Personal return

3. The Holy Spirit and His regenerative work essential to the regeneration and the sanctification of believers

4. The Church of Christ on earth composed of the redeemed, who are commissioned to make their chief business the evangelization of the world

It was this message Rader preached at the Tabernacle and all were welcome to come and hear, including Pentecostal Christians who were not welcome in many of the other Fundamentalist churches of the day. Evangelism and growth in the Christian life, rather than systematic theology, were the emphases.

There was a definite circuit in the United States for Fundamentalist preachers and lecturers and the Fundamentalist character of the Tabernacle was also expressed in the variety of speakers welcomed to its pulpit, the best known including William Biederwolf, Evangeline Booth, F.F. Bosworth, E.M. Bounds, R.A. Jaffrey, Mark Matthews, R.E. Neighbor, Franklin J. Norris, John R. Rice, Raymond Ritchey, William Bell Riley, T.T. Shields, Oswald J. Smith, Billy Sunday, and W. Leon Tucker.


The ramshackle, temporary, ugly Tabernacle structure was very simple but provided a center for ministries and worship.

Intended originally only as a temporary summer building, the Tabernacle had to be flexible in its physical structure as well as in its program. The building was square-shaped (170 feet by 170 feet), with thin tile and wooden walls replacing the original canvas ones. Inside, the huge platform at the front, big enough for a choir of hundreds and two pianos, dominated the auditorium. A sounding board provided adequate acoustics and simple wooden benches served as pews. In the winter, a dozen coal stoves provided heat. Offices and activity rooms lined the east and west sides. A cafeteria was later added to accommodate those who came from far away to spend the day at the church's programs. In many ways, Rader's Tabernacle was a forerunner of the megachurches of recent years. Like them, the Tabernacle had a huge congregation including many people who had never been part of a traditional congregation. They were drawn by a charismatic preacher who with his staff carefully studied their interests and needs. A network of small group and special programs met the nurture and fellowship needs of the people and all were mobilized in efforts to support evangelism overseas and outreach in their own neighborhoods and city.


Music pervaded all of the Tabernacle programs and the staff included talented hymn writers, composers, singers and musicians.

Rader himself was the author of dozens of hymns, of which the best known today is probably "Only Believe." He, like the founder of the Salvation Army William Booth, often took popular songs and replaced their old lyrics with Christian ones about Jesus and living the Christian life. Almost all of his major assistants were also talented musicians and singers, especially Merrill Dunlop, who was with him from the beginning and stayed with the Tabernacle after Rader left. Dunlop not only played the piano and led various choirs and musical groups, but also led and organized children's clubs and played a major part in the radio ministry.

Paul Rader's Pantry

When the Depression started, the Tabernacle mobilized to provide food and clothing for tens of thousands of Chicago families.

At the very beginning of the Great Depression in 1929, the Tabernacle ministries were not effected too greatly, but the people attending certainly were. As more and more people lost their jobs, the Tabernacle stepped up its food distribution program and started a rescue mission for street people. In 1932, Rader went further. All around Chicago there were farms that had a food surplus. He began a campaign asking that this food be donated to the Tabernacle, where it would be canned and given to the needy. The response was overwhelming. Well over 36,400 families were fed regularly while the Pantry lasted. And hundreds of volunteers picked fruit, sorted clothes, canned food, or distributed the materials. However, the program was controversial. The smell of produce, especially cabbage, filled the Tabernacle (for a while, Rader was known as the Sauerkraut King of Chicago), and this offended some. Others felt that distributing food on such a large scale was outside the Tabernacle ministry and would distract it from direct evangelism. And the Pantry did strain the Tabernacle's resources just as it was facing its most severe challenge..

The End of the Tabernacle

Overextension and mounting debts brought Rader's connection with the Tabernacle to an end in 1933. The ministries of both continued, but neither was ever the same.

The end of Rader's leadership of the Tabernacle came with amazing swiftness. Since 1921, Chicago businessman Albert Johnson had been a steady source of financial support to Rader, particularly from 1927 on. Johnson had acquired the property the Tabernacle stood on in order to safeguard Rader's interest in it. But like so many other businessmen, Johnson suffered severe financial setbacks due to the Great Depression. This prevented him from continuing to make the loan payments on the mortgage. In 1932 Rader signed a note taking over the interest payments on the loan. At the same time, the expenses of the radio ministry had exceeded the support money from listeners, and the Tabernacle Rader had started in Los Angeles also faced serious financial problems. Rader went to California in early 1933 to help clear the situation up there. Unfortunately, due to a judgement served against him, he was prevented from leaving the state until he paid off the debts. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tabernacle's woes increased and an auction of the furniture for debt was just narrowly averted. When Rader was able to return to Chicago in the late spring of 1933, the situation had grown so grim that he decided the only way to maintain the Tabernacle was to separate himself and the World Wide Christian Couriers from it. Clarence Ericksen, who had been filling in as pastor in Rader's absence, became the new minister. Rader left in April 1933, just a few weeks after Franklin Roosevelt promised a New Deal for the American people. Rader took most of the debts and obligations with him, and then declared the World Wide Christian Couriers bankrupt. A final settlement with lenders was not reached until 1935. Rader continued in evangelistic ministry until his death from prostate cancer in 1938. The Tabernacle continued as a traditional church until the end of the 1970s. But neither Rader nor the Tabernacle were ever again what they had been together during the nation's Jazz Age.

People Influenced by Paul Rader

Paul Rader, especially during the years of the CGT, was the means of leading many people to go into Christian work.

One of the most striking aspects of Rader's ministry was the number of later Christian leaders who claimed him as an influence. Among these were:

Peter Deyneka Sr. - Disciple of Paul Rader's, first at Moody Church and then at the Tabernacle. His evangelistic work in eastern Europe was supported by the Tabernacle. Later he founded the Slavic Gospel Association

Merrill Dunlop – Musician and youth leader at the Tabernacle, later had a long ministry as hymn writer, musician, evangelist

Howard Ferrin (no picture available) – Staff member at the Tabernacle, later founder of Providence Bible Institute

Paul Fleming (no picture available) – Assistant to Rader at the Fort Wayne tabernacle, later founder of New Tribes Missions

Charles Fuller – Convert during Rader meetings in Los Angeles in the 1910s, greatly influenced by Rader's radio work and later the country's best known radio evangelist and the founder of Fuller Theological Seminary

Torrey Johnson – Attended the Tabernacle when a young man, later the first president of Youth for Christ and an evangelist and Bible teacher

Clarence Jones – Musician and youth leader at the Tabernacle, later the founder of the very influential missionary radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador

Lance Latham – Musician and youth leader at the Tabernacle, later the founder of the AWANA Clubs movement for children

Henrietta Mears – Bible teacher and publisher who was an important influence on many. Her view of service and evangelism was deeply influenced by a series of sermons she heard Rader preach in Minneapolis when she was a young woman

Oswald J. Smith – Evangelist, hymn writer, recruiter of missionaries, founder of the People's Church of Toronto. He worked closely with Rader during the CGT years and in charge of the Tabernacle's work in Canada.

People Remember

On this page are links to audio clips from throughout the exhibit, made with people many years later about their memories of Paul Rader and the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle.

Excerpt (3-3/4 minutes) from tape T1 in Collection 50, oral history interview with Tabernacle musician Merrill Dunlop recorded by Bob Shuster on November 1, 1978.

DUNLOP: In fact, when Paul Rader left Moody Church after seven years as pastor, he was itinerating as an evangelist for a year or so. But a group of people who prized his ministry wanted him to return to Chicago. And (although Paul Rader had planned to go to New York City and build a big tabernacle; in fact, they'd had built the steel structure for it)...and a committee in New York City had gotten together and invited Paul Rader to come and become the pastor of a big evangelis...listic center...evangelistic center in...in New York City. And they had the specifications drawn and the steel was ordered and was...was built for that tabernacle in New York City, which was never built because something happened. And there was some kind of change or disagreement on the part of those men as to the lot and the building and all of that, financing and so forth. And Paul Rader was left with big steel structure.

SHUSTER: What....

DUNLOP: The steel. It wasn't a structure yet.

SHUSTER: But he was the owner, he owned it; he was responsible for it.

DUNLOP: Apparently so. I am not just sure of...of all of those details of ownership. However, Paul Rader then decided to accept the invitation of some of the folks who wanted him to come back to Chicago. And so he found the lot up at the corner of Clark, Barry, and Halsted, which was 3100 north, about two miles north of the Moody Church. And so the steel that had been made for the New York tabernacle fitted that lot and Paul Rader just intended it to be a big summer campaign. So they put it up, they put the steel structure there and they put concrete blocks as the roof over the big structure. And that seated about six thousand people. But it was a huge area. And it was all open, there had no sides. They put...they had big sheets of white canvas that they attached to the sides which kept the...the winds from going through, the cool breezes, you know, and gave protection against rain or weather. And Paul Rader opened that as...as The Big Steel Tent in June...June the 18th, 1922, the opening service. And that was the beginning of the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. And that big summertime those crowds just came there, just surged throughout that building and filled it up just night after night. And Paul Rader had his big set-up of the tabernacle band and choir. And when the Fall days came along (and he had planned to take the tabernacle down), there was such a hue and cry to keep it going that he decided to brick it in somehow if they could. And Paul Rader did not want to conduct...did not want to have morning services because he felt he did not want to put this tabernacle up in competition to the churches of the area. His idea was a big evangelistic center without membership. And so Sunday school was at two o'clock, Sunday afternoon. And the Sunday afternoon service was at three following the Sunday school. And then he had a cafeteria. People would stay right straight through after the afternoon service was over about five and they could go in there, and get their food. And then the band concert started at six-thirty for a half hour, and during that time people were pouring into the auditorium, you see, to get there for the evening service. And the evening service started at seven....

Excerpt (5-1/4 minutes) from tape T8 in Collection 38, oral history interview with daughter Pauline Rader Noll, recorded in August 1984.

NOLL: Coming now to question thirty, I think I'd describe my father somewhat as a preacher. His illustrations were the big point. The other fact was that he never...he never left you in doubt to the point that was was trying to get across. You couldn't help but listen to him. Much as I heard him, you pretty near knew some of his hermons...sermons by heart at the time. I wish I could really remember them. Was the fact that they always had a point, and the point you...you knew what is was and you knew why. There was nearly always an altar call, whether it was for salvation or for surrender your life or consecration. This, also, was made very definite in his sermons. Yes, I heard Billy Sunday preach a couple times when he had the great big tabernacle or tent that was down in the middle of Chicago. And mostly I remember him running all over the place, breaking chairs and what not. My father was not that dynamic or acrobatic. As I said he waved his hands and he talked and he moved. But he didn't...he wasn't flamboyant about it. He talk to you like he was talking to you...you, yourself and not a whole big audience. And people reacted to this in a way. They never...they sat on the end of their seats and listened because he had something to say and he said it forcefully. And this makes the difference. His style was not like Billy Sunday's although they were good friends and Mrs. Sunday was part of our tabernacle family at times even though she was in and out. And, of course, Homer Rodeheaver was around. Number thirty-one. Well, I could probably do a whole cassette on my father's humor, which was very normal and natural coming from the west and being a...a Methodist minister's kid. And being such a human being himself, his humor was very fantastic. He always had jokes of some kind going and we had family jokes by the dozens that he could say one word and we'd all be laughing because it was some joke that had been in the family for a long time. Which I think when families are close, there always are these jokes. Maybe I could tell you an incident here and maybe it has nothing to do, but I guess I'm rambling this afternoon. But I remember one joke that he used to bring up to us a lot was about, as he called it, the idiot family. They had finally decided to separate the furniture and they all...the only way they could separate it and make out to who it was to go to, they threw it all out on the front lawn and then separated it. Then he had another joke about the family and how all of the family had gone to school and so it got down to the last little boy. And he had heard about "A" all his life, he had always heard about "A" and he didn't know what "A" was. So when the teacher the first time he went to school, his teacher made a great big "A" on the blackboard and he looked up and said, "My God, is that 'A'?" And of course, they way my father told and so on, it was a great joke. And it got to be a family joke too because it seemed to fit so many circumstances. And I can remember once in church which we had heard about this man who was going to preach and how great he was and so on and so forth. And it went on and on about how fine he was. Well, the day came when the man came and spoke and I happened to be in the choir at that time and I was sitting right behind my father and this man was going on and he really wasn't saying anything. And I leaned over and said to my father, which was right in his ear, "Good God, is that A?" And I'll never forget how he shook. He sat there and he shook and shook with laughter. And he choked and he did everything he could think of not to show that he was laughing. And of course, I pretty near had the giggles too. And when we got home that night, I can tell you that I got a lecture-and-a-half about doing something like that right in the middle of church. But, somehow or other you can't resist it. But that was the type of humor he had.

Excerpt (1-1/2 minutes) from tape T4 in Collection 38, oral history interview with Virginia Latham, wife of Tabernacle musician and youth leader Lance Latham.

LATHAM: He had both strength and gift. It was extraordinary. He was a strong man. He had been a...he had been a fighter in his early days. I don't know what kind of a fighter but also baseball player and so on. He was...he was built well. He was a strong man. His gifts in oratory were lovely. He had a gift of storytelling that is unequal to anybody I've ever heard. He...the words just flew out of his...poured out of his mouth. And people sat there and could sit there for hours and listen to him. Every time a sermon would...came to a...came to the end, they wished that he would keep on longer. They had great...great song services down there. But I as one, who is...represents many, I couldn't wait until that dear man stepped over to the pulpit, opened up his Bible, and with a great big white hand in his...handkerchief in his right hand he started to preach. I loved it. I ate up every word. It was food to my soul. He had great strength. And he was attrac...he was an attraction to people. He had a wonderful personality. Happy. He knew how to tell jokes in the right way. People laughed. They were happy. They loved to come.

Excerpt (1 minute) from tape T1 in Collection 410, oral history interview with Art Rorheim (involved in the Tabernacle's youth program as a participant and later as a leader) recorded by Bob Shuster on March 31, 1989.

RORHEIM: And of course, Paul Rader, big tall man, and you...you'd hear him preach, it was unbelievable. He...he was the most fantastic storyteller and could use illustrations in messages that...that I've never heard. They used to bring some of the...some of the profs from Northwestern University used to bring their students to hear Paul Rader because he was the best illustrator they had ever heard. And...and so there was that kind of a spirit that went on there and you'd see, you know, just every service there were hundreds of folks that...that accepted Christ. And the...and the missionary emphasis they had was just great.

Excerpt (3 minutes) from tape T4 in Collection 38, oral history interview with Virginia Latham, wife of Tabernacle musician and youth leader Lance Latham.

LATHAM: He started the first radio ministry that we ever had in Chicago. It was out over the station WHT, which was, of course, William Hale Thompson, who was the mayor of Chicago at the time. And every single Sunday from 12 noon until 12 midnight we...we continuously went over the radio. And it was divided into half-hour groups. Of course, the afternoon service was broadcast, but the other part of the time, outside of the afternoon service and the evening service, was divided up into half-hour periods. And they had different groups take part and carry them, like one for shut-ins, the other one was for...was for boys, another one was for girls, another one was for wom...business women and so on. I can't go into detail. But at the end of the evening service where he was evangelistic, crowds in that place that you could not seat. And he preached his heart out and saw hundreds of people come to Christ. After his ser...evening service, he would take a shower and then rush into the radio studio and then he started a...well, let me see (what could I call it?)...a request hour. People wro...called in and wanted certain songs played. And some of us who were in the musical groups got up there and sang them or quartets sang them or a trio sang them or there was a solo and so on. It was very interesting. And after that he had what they called a Back Home Hour from eleven to twelve. There he talked very personally to people. He had what they called radio drama. He'd dramatize Bible stories. And of course, every last one of them were evangelistic, geared to unsaved people and how to find Christ through the gospel of the grace of God. And scores of people came down in the cars that they had, a few of them, and street cars. And at 12 o'clock, when we were through at...in the radio studio, we came out and find a...found a crowd of people sitting there, waiting to talk to some of us. We led them to Christ. They had heard him preach. They heard the Back Home Hour and they sat there in tears. We...we led them to Christ. We helped them to see the Gospel and what to do. This was our ministry. It was wonderful. We did not know to where it was going to lead, but this is the way it went on every Sunday and every Sunday all along the way.

Excerpt (5-3/4 minutes) from tape T1 in Collection 273, oral history interview with Harold Day (a Tabernacle volunteer) recorded by Bob Shuster on May 31, 1984.

DAY: Well, Rader had in mind to evangelize. That was his purpose, you know. Not to make big groups, but to...but to spread out, you know, in homes, you now, four or five homes where we gathered. And not to make big crowd. And in it, I would be responsible, you know, the...for the...picking somebody out that...that could go other places and spread out and certain not to get too many. And his idea was to...to...not...to spread out, you know. [unclear]. That was his motive. And then to win them for the Lord and Christ like that and teaching them in homes where you couldn't reach otherwise, you know. Sometimes, I mean, you can always....

SHUSTER: Well, who belonged to Courier classes? Who...who attended?

DAY: Well, mostly you'd have to be, well, trained or been a born again Christian. You'd have to know that. He wasn't particular. Any...anybody that would....willing to do this, you know. A lot of people, Christian, maybe they didn't want to, you know, spend their time this way. So anybody that would have a desire to teach and to win souls and...and get out spend some of their time that way.

SHUSTER: So the Couriers were people who were willing to set up neighborhood Bible studies?

DAY: Yes, Bible studies, mainly, yes.

SHUSTER: What kind of preparation did you have? What kind of...?

DAY: Well, they had a Courier book. I don't know if we [break in recording].... Well, in there was...you'd have to study that: how to talk to people, learn Scripture verses, how to win them to Christ, the motive and...and things like that, so you...so you would have to be well-grounded in the Scripture, you know. The main thing was how to approach a person and how to win them for Christ, and...and...and mostly to read the Bible and...and understand it, mostly. And he gave us...he'd teach us, you know, like how to talk to people. Mostly he had to evangelize. That's what his motive was. You know, a few here, a few there, [unclear] scatter [laughs] and move...move on, you know.

SHUSTER: Was there ever any conventions or meetings there for people who belonged to the Couriers?

DAY: Oh yeah. Well, of course, they had...one had to...I mean, once a week we had to check in, you know, and...and report to what...what success we had. And so we'd gather and we'd have a...a...a...a...a flag, you know, with a number on it. I remember I had a number there. And at Courier class, each one would have a flag there and their group. And they would report to the group what wedid, how many souls we won, and what happened, and....

SHUSTER: Now who was in this group?

DAY: Well, all the classes are the Courier deacons, you know.

SHUSTER: And the deacon is the person who headed the various levels.

DAY: They had their group there, see. And they would have to report how they made out and how many souls they won. And if you stood up, like that, you know, not to have too big of a number, and...and appoint somebody else and they'll go in another place in a different neighborhood [laughs] and section. And every week we'd report to the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle to the...to the...oh, Rader or to whoever was in charge. Sometime Rader would...wouldn't be there and somebody else would be in charge. But Rader was most of the time there, and he would like to know how things came out. And then, of course, in the middle of the Tabernacle...I don't know...was a great big circle. I don't know if...probably Merrill [Dunlop] had told you what...flag of each nation, just about.

SHUSTER: Just flags you mean around the Tabernacle?

DAY: Yeah, or no. Inside of the Tabernacle, a big circle, maybe thirty feet diameter, with the nations and the countries that they had sent missionaries out hanging in there.

SHUSTER: Countries that the Tabernacle had sent missionaries to?

DAY: Yes. So that was always interesting. I'd look at a flag [laughs], you know.

SHUSTER: Did...you mentioned before that you didn't want the Courier groups to get too large.

DAY: Yes.

SHUSTER: What was the average size of a Courier group?

DAY: Well, eight or nine or ten, no more than twelve, yeah. Maybe some had, but as soon [laughs] as you get too big, you'd pick somebody out that's willing to take over another group. And so when you get around nine, if...if somebody's in there that would be glad to, you don't have to require if they would...you...you force nobody. If they...they have to have it in their heart to do it. And...and they would take and they would go a different neighborhood, maybe half a mile away [laughs], take a different section, work in that way. And so then...then every once in a great while, they would have them all get together, the whole bunch, you know, how many new sections and new...new leaders. In fact, and so [one] time we had a whole bunch. Maybe...I don't know how...150, 200, maybe. I don't exactly all the people, new ones that we won, and some new converts, and stuff like that. They'd testify that they'd got saved and went to their meetings.

Excerpt (7 minutes) from tape T1 in Collection 50, oral history interview with Tabernacle musician Merrill Dunlop recorded by Bob Shuster on November 1, 1978.

DUNLOP: And he had a great missionary passion. And that's why the missionary...the annual missionary conventions were really something. He went all out on that. He used to raise huge sums of money for...to...for the support of foreign missions. And, of course, he had missionaries all over the world. When I traveled around the world in later years, Dr. Bob Cook, who is now president of the...the King's College in Briarcliff Manor, New York, he and I went around the world together for Youth for Christ. And nearly everywhere we went on that world tour we'd find missionaries who were there because they had been sent out years ago by Paul Rader. And so we saw that aspect of his work too.

SHUSTER: Were these missionary conferences only in Chicago or did he hold them around the country?

DUNLOP: He did held...hold them in other places, but they were mainly in Chicago, yes.

SHUSTER: What was the format of the meeting? Were they a week long or...?

DUNLOP: Yes, they usually...they used to be a week long. The two main Sundays bracketing the week, of course, were the big deals. We had morning services usually, during those five day...five weekday mornings. And, of course, every evening service was a great service. It featured missionaries constantly. And Paul Rader would select those missionaries that were most effective on the platform and as public speakers, of course. And there was great interest in them. And, of course, always there was a consecration meeting when he would ask people to come forward and consecrate their lives for mission...missionary service. And since we always had a great crowd of young people at the old Chicago Gospel Tabernacle, when that big invitation was given for people to come forward and consecrate their lives, there would sometimes be two and three hundred people. And then he would ask them to spread out and take hands around the whole auditorium and so the whole Tabernacle would be encircled with this...within the...the hands of the circled missionaries, missionary volunteers. It was a tremendously impressive closing service. And then on the final day he would take the...the pledges, the missionary pledges for foreign missions. That was always the big day.

SHUSTER: How many missionaries did the church support?

DUNLOP: Well, I don't know as I could quite remember the exact number. We were...there was a constant missions thing. I remember the...the big Sunday...the biggest Sunday...I think the biggest amount of money that Paul Rader ever raised, I think, on one of those closing Sundays was three hundred thousand dollars.

SHUSTER: Where did most of the missionaries from the Gospel Tabernacle go, what countries? Was it...?

DUNLOP: Well, he sent them to Africa, to India, to South America. In fact his own daughter, his oldest daughter Pauline, went as a missionary to India. I remember the...the group that she went with. They sent about six or seven missionaries in one group to India at one time. She was among them. And another time his second daughter, Willamine, became a missionary and I think that her...I think she spent time in India also. I'm not quite sure. But he had missionaries, of course, going to many, many places.

SHUSTER: Were the...?

DUNLOP: In fact, Clarence Jones going to HCJB in...in Quito [Ecuador], which is now a great broadcasting station, you know. Clarence Jones was on Paul Rader's early staff and I remember the time when Paul Rader was farewelling Clarence Jones to start out on his missionary venture down in South America. I helped to finance his early trips down there and his early beginnings of that station.

SHUSTER: So the...the Tabernacle financed both long-term and short-term missionaries?

DUNLOP: That's right, yes.

SHUSTER: Those who would go for, say, a year and those who would go for....

DUNLOP: Well, I don't think there were so much of the short term missionaries in those days. Only in the sense that Clarence Jones didn't have so far to go. But he couldn't fly down there then. He had to go by ship because there were no planes going in those days. But Clarence Jones had to make several trips down there. He would be gone for a period of weeks or months and then come back again until he was pretty firmly established.

SHUSTER: Did the Tabernacle set up some kind of mission board to take care of the missionaries?

DUNLOP: Yes. We had a regular missionary department and Paul Rader had appointed a man who was a great missionary in his own right years before, Christian L. Eicher. And he had him come onto our staff and become the head of the missionary department. And Mr. Eicher had two fine women secretaries that worked the missionary department with him. Julia Plecher [sp?] and Myrtle Rainey [sp?] were the two. And he had brought them from New York City where they had been in the Christian and Missionary Alliance office. They were experienced in mission things. And so he set them up, then they came willingly to join him in Chicago with Paul Rader. So we had the missions department.

SHUSTER: How did Paul Rader's missionary journeys around the world get started?

DUNLOP: I think as the result of his...of the requests of missionaries in various parts of the world for him to come over there and visit them and hold meetings, and to instruct them and to...to inspire other missionaries. In fact, groups of missionaries would come and he would minister to them. And....

SHUSTER: So this would...the meetings were for...more for missionaries than the general population?

DUNLOP: Yes, he would have to speak through interpreters, of course, when they had the public meetings but the missionaries would interpret, you see. But those were long drawn out journeys. They would be three or four months long because he'd have to go across the Atlantic or the Pacific by ship, and those were long trips. And on a couple of occasions, Paul Rader would become quite ill on those trips. And we wondered whether he was going to make it or not. But God brought him back and up again, full strength. And we'd have great welcome home services for him.

SHUSTER: What.... Would Paul Rader go every year on a missionary journey?

DUNLOP: No, I don't think so. I think that he had three of these world missionary journeys. Some of the literature I've given you I think will show you some of these missionary journeys. They called it Paul's third missionary journey on some of the publicity that I gave you this morning. He did one of them, I think, when he was pastor of the Moody Church. And then he did two of them I think during the time...his years at the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. You see, Paul Rader started the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle in '22, 1922. And he left the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle in 1932, during the...when the bankruptcy took place. So he had ten tremendous years there. They were just terrific years. Never can quit talking about all the things that happened back in those days.

Excerpt (3 minutes) from tape T1 in Collection 434, oral history interview with Jack Frizen (missionary whose evangelist father worked with Rader) recorded by Paul Ericksen on August 9, 1990.

FRIZEN: My father became an evangelist. Well, I better go back....

ERICKSEN: Yeah, I was going to ask. You said he was a chiropractor.

FRIZEN: Right [laughs]. He...the story that I've received was that in a street meeting...he came from a Christian family but evidently he was away from the Lord. And in a street meeting with Paul Rader, who is one of the evangelistic luminaries downstairs in the [Billy Graham Center] museum here. Paul Rader had great influence on dad's life. And whether he was actually converted for the first time or made a...a real commitment to the Lord during that time, I'm not sure, because it just never came up. And I knew that Paul Rader had a great influence on him because Dad closed the doors to his office and joined Paul Rader, first at Moody Church, when Paul Rader was pastor. Now I don't know if he was on the staff there because I've always heard that he joined the staff at the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. And so that was after Paul Rader left Moody Church and started the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. And so that's...Dad became song leader, office manager and just general staff member there at the Tabernacle. And continued with music because he had a good voice and was a soloist as well as a song leader. And that kept on in my very early years. And I can still remember, as a young child, the sawdust in the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle and sitting on the benches during the services and.... I don't remember being dedicated but afterwards I was told by my parents that they had dedicated me as a three year old with Paul Rader officiating and that he had dedicated me for missionary service. And that never came up during my early childhood until sometime after I had already committed myself for missionary service. Then they told me to reinforce it but they didn't...they didn't....

ERICKSEN: Burden you with it.

FRIZEN: Burden me with that [laughs] and add that on. In fact, I think the...the first recollection that I have of missionaries was from....

Excerpt (3/4 minute) from tape T4 in Collection 38, oral history interview with Virginia Latham, wife of Tabernacle musician and youth leader Lance Latham.

LATHAM: I know how many times Lance has mentioned him and his love for his workers. He believed in them. If they made mistakes, he did not jump on them. He got them together and talked to them. He was patient, by...in every...every sense of the word. He worked with them, he molded them. They loved him and that's why they worked for him. One secret is..it is for every Christian worker to love the ones you work with. We feel love, and we give it back to them always. There is a...there is an exchange when you're working in God's way of working and that is what he did.

Excerpt (1-1/2 minutes) from tape T1 in Collection 139, oral history interview with niece Frances Rader Longino recorded by Bob Shuster on September 11, 1980.

SHUSTER: Was Paul Rader a well known figure around Chicago?

LONGINO: Very, yes. Even people that didn't attend the Tabernacle knew about him. And I can remember when I was in school (I was in an...a little Episcopalion school, private school)...and when I ...when I entered the two sisters there were...they were quite impressed, you know, that they had a niece of Paul Rader or that they had somebody with that name. And I asked if they knew them. "Oh yes, we know a lot about him," they said. "We don't go to his church, of course." [laughs]. But he was very well known. I...I found people in my Army ministry before I married that remembered hearing him, especially on...on that Back Home Hour. There...there is another pastor, he's in the charismatic movement, Ern Baxter, was a pastor up in Canada. He's an Australian. But he had a church in Can...Canada. And he would close the service a little early if possible, you know, and they had the radio fixed up in the back room. amd that whole church would go back there and listen to the Back Home Hour. So it was a very popular program. All through the middle of the country especially we found people that knew him and felt like they were personally acquainted because of that program.

Excerpt (8 minutes) from tape T8 in Collection 38, oral history interview with daughter Pauline Rader Noll recorded in August 1984.

NOLL: Because his...it was...the next thing we knew, they were building the Tabernacle that he had on Clark, Barry and Halstead, which was further north than...than the Moody Church. And it was to be a summer affair. Nobody thought it was going to be anything more than a summer meeting. And it was to be a steel tent rather than a canvas tent, so it had a great big roof and steel barriers to hold up the roof and then the seats and there was a gravel road...a gravel floor and wooden bench seats. The platform at the Tabernacle was a great big high thing. It was the most horrible thing to talk from, but there was a great big sounding board above it. Of course, this was all in the days before microphones, buildings were different, acoustics were different. And my father evidently needed space to move around. He didn't move as much as Billy Sunday, but he sure moved. And he always waved his arms a lot, because he was very expressive in the way that he talked. He didn't stand and just read from notes. In fact, my father's notes of any sermon were never more than a little piece of scratch paper, and even that not most of the time. He did it all straight from memory. He used to have a couple of notes he'd have on the side of his Bible, but I don't remember him ever stopping and reading anything or even glancing down unless he was reading the Scriptures. This Tabernacle not only had a big platform, but it was a big...a big platform for the choir, 'cause it was a big choir and then there was a great big section that was for the band. And there was the organ and the piano. But when winter came, the people wanted to go on and they still wanted to keep the Tabernacle. And then's when it became...be called the Gos...Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. And they closed it in and put stoves in. These were great big pot belly stoves. I think there were either four or six. And the place did seat, they said, five thousand, and I think it did before they put the sides in. Then it must have gone done to about thirty-five hundred. And it was always full, especially Sunday night. Talking about any typical day at the Tabernacle and, of course, my life was the Tabernacle at that time. I was teenager and I was very much in it with the youth and all the work that we did. And the people that worked with my father were all young. There was Merrill Dunlop who played the organ, Lance [Latham] was at the piano, Clarence [Jones] who was part of the brass quartet and his brother Howard, they were all our age. Most of them are...oh, some of them were a little older, but most of them are the same age as I am. And we all group up together, let's say, in the Tabernacle. Sunday was the day that we were never any other place but the Tabernacle, even up all the years I was in college and everything. This tabernacle was my life. I think that was why it was so hard for me to adjust sometimes, because I was in college all week and then at the Tabernacle Saturday and Sunday, 'cause we had our youth meetings, a lot of them on Saturday. Sunday started, I think it was ten o'clock and we had a very dignified, almost what the Methodists call a worship service, but it was a very dignified service. There was not the band, only the organ and part of the choir that came Sunday morning. Then we always ate there after the...the service [?] had been going a while. They had a cafeteria and the ladies put it on. We used to have sandwiches and soup, and everybody stayed. Then by two o'clock, Sunday school started, and there were rooms, and there were side rooms, and then the big part had classes all over it. And this went for...on for most of the afternoon. Most of the time we weren't even through till four. Then there were some youth meetings at five, I think it was, somewhere along like that, until it was time for supper. Then we had another supper. Sometimes it was cafeteria, sometimes we went out, but we had our meal there. Then the whole service started at seven o'clock. And then the band would come and the big choir. And then, of course, later when radio started, this all became part of it. It was a big meeting and this is when the biggest crowds came. And it...the early days it was full and I mean full. They would have to announce sometimes for people to move along the bench so that everybody could get in. And with the gravel and those horrible stoves, it was fairly comfortable if you sat near enough to the stove, but if you weren't too near the stove, it could be pretty cold with those gravel floors. Speaking of week nights in the Tabernacle, they had a Wednesday night meeting. And it was never very big. I think most of the time it was in the side room. And if there was a Thursday night there, I don't even remember it. We had big meetings Saturday, because this is when the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides met in order to have their meeting. And we used to even play baseball Saturday out in the lot. Here's a good joke in a way. Maybe it doesn't come in out of this question, but speaking of baseball in regards. And some of used to go out there and play baseball on Saturday in this lot. And my father was so very proud of the fact that his daughter Pauline batted the ball and it went over all the billboards and hit one of the Halsted street cars and it broke the window. I don't think my father ever paid a bill that he enjoyed more, because you see, he didn't have any boys and he wanted boys very much. In fact, each one of us were named for a...a boy. Maybe before I get through all this I'll tell you how I got my name. But the fact is that our life at the Tabernacle was that way. Here we played ball in the afternoon, we had our meetings. We were around and about that place all the time. My last two years in college I had a car of my own. It was a Rio, if you've ever heard of it. It was green and had...you could put the top down and it had a mother-in-law seat in the back. All the kids in the Tabernacle, I think, had a ride in that car at some point or other. And sometimes we'd have as many as ten in there, all piled in and on the running board. And, of course, Lake Harbor was going then, which was the summer place. We were going back and forth. And these young people, and all who worked in the Tabernacle and were part of the program, were also part of our life. And this was what made it such a glorious time for all of us. I don't think there were too many worldly temptations for any of us 'cause we were so busy.

Excerpt (1-1/4 minutes) from tape T1 in Collection 410, oral history interview with Art Rorheim (involved in the Tabernacle's youth program as a participant and later as a leader) recorded by Bob Shuster on March 31, 1989.

SHUSTER: What was a typical service at the Tabernacle like?

RORHEIM: Well, the Tabernacle I've often said perhaps the most unusual...I look at it as the most unusual church the world has ever known. There...the reason I say that is, well, here you'd walk into the Tabernacle and here it...it's just a tabernacle with sawdust floor, you know, and...and wooden benches for seats. And you'd see these big coal stoves along each side that heated the place. But the place was just ignited with the real Spirit of the Lord. There'd be a band of maybe fifty pieces up on the platform that...Richard Oliver was the man who led that band. And then they would...they would have two, three big grand pianos on the platform. And they had an organ that was supposed to be the second largest organ in the city of Chicago that really rocked that place with beautiful music as...as Merrill Dunlop and Doc. Latham would play that organ. And...and then too the thing that's interesting there, it was before the days of PA [public address] system. There was no PA system. And they just kind of had a baffle up behind the...the speaker up there to help push the sound out and....

Excerpt (2 minutes) from tape T1 in Collection 268, oral history interview with Helen Lowery (attended the Tabernacle and volunteered in its programs) recorded by Bob Shuster on March 26, 1984.

SHUSTER: You've mentioned how many musical activities there were at the Tabernacle. Why do you think there was such an emphasis on music?

LOWERY: I think it was a music...part...I think the music played a big part in drawing people to the Tabernacle, because I don't think churches at that time had as much music as they have now. I know the little church we went to before we started going to the Tabernacle, we had the traditional organ. That's to have played the hymns that were right there and...and if it wasn't printed on the page they didn't play it. The same with the pianist. And you had...you had a choir that sang the ordinary old hymn and really didn't do anything big. I don't think that music became such a part of our worship, or was such a part of the worship until.... I think Mr. Rader probably promoted it because he was rather flamboyant and he wanted all of these things going. And he had these musicians. And he wanted everybody to take part in everything. And he just used everything he had. You know he gave you both barrels all the time. And I think people were won to the Tabernacle. That was one reason they came, was because there was so much music and there was so much joy in the music. And it was spontaneous and you never know, he'd turn and say, "Why don't we do..." whatever it was, and he'd...and Merrill [Dunlop] and Lance [Latham] would sit down. Lance would be at the organ and Merrill would be at the piano and they'd take off in a key and the congregation would start singing and away we would go. And then it just became better music, because you had an educated man like Merrill who...who knew these anthems and these works of art.

Excerpt (1 minute) from tape T4 in Collection 38, oral history interview with Virginia Latham, wife of Tabernacle musician and youth leader Lance Latham.

LATHAM: Paul Rader was still there when the Depression was on. And people's homes were foreclosed, nice people, good people, middle class people. They lost everything. And he was feeding them in the Tabernacle. He sent out a let...a message to bakeries, stores, meat markets, everything to send their food over to us and we would give it to them. And he had a crowd in that Tabernacle every single day that listened to the gospel of grace first and then they went in and got their packages of food according to the size of their family. My mother worked with the clothes and there they clothed a lot of people who had lost everything. These were hard times. It was a wonderful time. I wouldn't have missed it for anything, but it was not easy, but God was in it.

Excerpt (3/4 minute) from tape T1 in Collection 351, oral history interview with Burt Long (missionary who was influenced by Rader) recorded by Heather Conley on November 26, 1986.

LONG: When the Tabernacle closed down during the Depression it was because they put so much money into food relief for poor people that they just went broke. Couldn't raise enough money to justify their heavy program of giving to...food to the poor people. That...two churches arose from it. One was the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle with a different pastor, and he started over as a very small church. And another church was founded by Lance Latham, who was the musical director and boys and girls work director of Paul Rader's. And that started by meeting in different hotel, any room that we could find. And I was in the group that went out with Dr. Latham or Lance Latham.

Excerpt (1-1/4 minutes) from tape T2 in Collection 446, oral history interview with evangelist Jack Wyrtzen recorded by Bob Shuster on October 5, 1991.

SHUSTER: Let me just ask you, parenthetically, did you ever hear Paul Rader preach or...?

WYRTZEN: No, I never did.

SHUSTER: He had died really just a couple years after you were converted, so....

WYRTZEN: Yeah, but I sure saw the results. He led Howard Ferrin, who started Providence Bible Institute, to the Lord. He led Ralph Davis, who was one of the big men of the African Inland Mission. Forrest Forbes was the first missionary we ever supported. He led him to the Lord.

SHUSTER: Charles Fuller. He was another.

WYRTZEN: Yeah, yeah. He came out of him. Bob Williams became Borneo Bob, started 119 churches in Borneo. And one of my best friends was Glen Wagner. He was an All-American University of Illinois football star. He ran all of the sorority and fraternity houses on campus at the University of Illinois. Wild guy. He went to hear Paul Rader in Peoria, Illinois, in a theater and he got converted. And he became the head of the Pocket Testament League. He and I preached to 300,000 men across the front lines of the 38th parallel in Korea for the Pocket Testament League. And he must have really been great. I was...you know, I look at some of these men, they were...they laid a foundation of Evangelical Fundamental Christianity across the world.

Excerpt (1 minute) from tape T1 in Collection 410, oral history interview with Art Rorheim (involved in the Tabernacle's youth program as a participant and later as a leader) recorded by Bob Shuster on March 31, 1989.

RORHEIM: But I guess the thing that with the Tabernacle which I'm sure you've heard many people share, just the tremendous ministries that came out of there. You know, when you think my pastor, Doc. Latham, who was Paul Rader's secretary for many years and...and what was part of the staff there. And then I look at the whole North Side Gospel Center coming out of there. And the Slavic Gospel Association. And, of course, Torrey Johnson and Youth For Christ was part of that. And I was at the Tabernacle when Clarence Jones was having his farewell to go to South America to start radio station HCJB. And I was just a kid sitting there and I can remember how they...Clarence shared how many people shared how foolish he was to go to South America because they don't even have radios there. What are you go there and start a radio station for?

Excerpt (2-3/4 minutes) from tape T1 in Collection 285, oral history interview with evangelist Torrey Johnson recorded by Bob Shuster on October 23, 1984.

JOHNSON: My father was a great admirer of Paul Rader. And I was also a great admirer, almost a...almost a disciple of Paul. So that while I went to my own church a great deal, getting into my later teens and early twenties, I took every opportunity I could to hear Paul Rader preach, both in the Tabernacle, which he had on North Avenue, which is now the Moody Church, and also when he moved to the Tabernacle on Barry and Halsted Streets. And I heard him many many times. I was greatly blessed and greatly challenged. In my way of thinking in my lifetime, Dr. Ironside was the great Bible teacher of Chicago in my lifetime and Paul Rader was by far the great evangelist of Chicago. And I was blessed by both those men.

SHUSTER: You said that you greatly admired him. What was it that you admired most about him?

JOHNSON: I think his world vision. He had a vision for the world and he had a heart that was big enough to take in a whole world. He was very daring. He was a great promoter. He had a great deal of imagination. He probably was a little bit ahead of his time. I think probably a part of his difficulty was he was too far ahead of the people and they couldn't quite either catch up or keep up with him. So that he pioneered a great deal of what other people did later on. And I think when you come to ask me about Youth For Christ, I think I would tell you this: I received my vision of the world from Paul Rader. And also from my pastor Dr. C.T. Dyrness and the missionary program he had. The difference between Rader and Dyrness was Dyrness was conventional, traditional, but with a burden for the world. Rader was more daring and imaginative and was a pioneer in taking missions out of the 19th century and putting it in the 20th century. So I received a good deal from both of them. But I think my fires were lit more in that regard from Paul Rader than from Dyrness. And I think that was one...that was one of my biggest contributions to Youth For Christ: world vision.


The Tabernacle's impact in the Jazz Age can't be separated from Rader, because it was an extension of his faith, dreams, and commitment. It reflected his vitality and bore marks of his weakness.

The Tabernacle was a means of God’s grace to many thousands of people. The seeds planted there in the 1920s and 30s played a great, immeasurable part in shaping American Evangelicalism in the 1940s and 50s and even the present. At the Tabernacle were pioneered ways to present the Gospel to an increasing secularized and frantic culture, a contribution that was largely unacknowledged in later years.

From the people who attended the Tabernacle as well as the staff would come Christian workers of the next generation, such as Torrey Johnson, Peter Deyneka and Merrill Dunlop. And for many, many others, the memory of the boldness and experimentation with methods learned at the Tab set their expectations for their next churches as well as their own Christian walk.

Still, one man, Paul Rader, was central to the Tabernacle. But Rader’s example was two-edged. The flexibility he embodied could lead to pragmatism as the master, not a servant. And his style of charismatic leadership could result in churches built around leaders and not God. His eagerness to grasp opportunities ultimately led to over-extension and a downfall that hurt many. He was a bold, energetic and loving proclaimer of the Good News in a sinful world and his weaknesses were the counterpart of his strengths. When he faced His Master, whatever sins he had to be forgiven, burying the talents he had been given was not among them.

Our thanks!

It has been almost twenty years since the Archives staff produced an earlier version of Jazz Age Evangelism -- the exhibit was housed in exhibit cases in 1984. The Internet is probably a medium Paul Rader would have explored had it been available to him, so this online exhibit is a fitting tribute not only to his contribution to the church and evangelism, but to his ingenuity and resourcefulness.

The staff particularly want to acknowledge their reliance on Larry Eskridge's 1985 master's thesis, "Only Believe: Paul Rader and the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle, 1922-1933." This excellent history was a resource and a guide to us from start to finish, although, of course, Mr. Eskridge bears no responsibility for any opinions expressed in this exhibit. It is our hope that some day the thesis will be published, so that it can be more widely available.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Paul Butler, David Dunlop and the Merrill Dunlop estate, which made available for the exhibit the audio excerpts for the Tabernacles broadcasts. Read Burgen did the audio restorations that made it possible to use the recordings.

We would also like to thank the individuals who have generously donated the materials about the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle and Paul Rader materials or who have been willing to be interviewed. They include:
  • John Bauerlein
  • William Bickett
  • Lloyd Cory
  • William Dillon
  • Merrill Dunlop
  • Larry Eskridge
  • Harriet Rader Kisler
  • Frank Longino
  • Pauline Rader Noll
  • Walter Osborn
  • Paul M. Rader
  • Art Rorheim
  • Ray Schulenberg
  • Paul Smith
  • Perry Straw
  • Grace Van Deraa
  • Andrew Wyzenbeek

Finally, our colleague David Malone of the Wheaton College Archives and Special Collections was often of invaluable and kind assistance as we tried to turn physical items into digitized documents for you to view.


Chronology of Paul Rader and the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle
1879 Daniel Paul Rader was born on August 24th in Denver Colorado, son of Daniel Leeper Rader and Laura Eugenia (Shakelford) Rader. He had four sisters and five brothers, three of whom died in infancy.
Father was appointed a Methodist missionary to Cheyenne, Wyoming by the Methodist Episcopal Church (North)
1888 Converted while talking with his father after attending a revival meeting in Cheyenne. Read Rader's account of his own coming to faith in Christ.
ca. 1895 Rader went on his first preaching tour
1896 Family returned to Denver when Paul was a teenager when father became publisher of the (Methodist) Rocky Mountain Advocate
ca. 1897-1899 Attended University of Denver
1899-1900 Attended University of Colorado. Began earning a reputation as a football player and boxer
1900-1901 Attended Central College, Missouri, also coached and played football
1901-1902 Student, football player, and director of athletics at Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota
1901 Was an original founder of Beta Kappa Fraternity on October 15th
1902-1904 Taught and coached at University of Puget Sound, Tacoma Washington
1904 Ordained on September 21st Congregational Church
1904-1906 Pastor of Maverick Congregational Church, East Boston.
1906 Married Mary Caughran on June 21
1907-1909 Pastor of the Holladay Congregational church in Portland, Oregon. Resigned because of a growing lack of conviction in his preaching and faith
1907 Daughter Pauline Caughran born on April 29 in Portland, Oregon
1908 Daughter Willamine Mary born on August 5 in Portland, Oregon
1909 Left the pastorate to enter business, working as a boxer and boxing promoter, then started an oil service company
ca. 1912 Reconversion of Rader in New York City
1912-1914 Caretaker and eventually assistant pastor of CMA Tabernacle, Pittsburgh, under the mentoring of pastor E. D. Whiteside
ca. 1913 Served as a song leader and assistant at several meetings around the country led by A. B. Simpson
1914 Became full-time itinerant evangelist
Evangelistic meetings in Toledo, Ohio
1915 Evangelistic meetings in Chicago, Illinois
Call to the pulpit of Moody Church of Chicago on February 3
Held evangelistic meetings during the summer in a tent at the corner of LaSalle, North, and Clark Streets
Moody Tabernacle, at the site of the summer meetings, was opened on November 7 as the center of Moody Church's evangelistic program in the city. The old church building on Chicago Avenue was sold in 1917
1916 Daughter Harriet Ellen born on April 1
1917 Evangelistic campaign in June at the Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, California, during which Charles Fuller was converted
1919-1924 President of CMA (was vice-president, succeeded A. B. Simpson on his death)
1919 Evangelistic campaign in New York
1920 Tour of Alliance missions between May and October
1921 Tabernacle Publishing Company formed on April 19
Left Moody Church in September
1921-1922 Revival tour of southeastern United States in late-1921 and early-1922
1922 Gospel Missionary Association formed on April 3 by Rader and Johnson to form the organizational basis of a summer evangelistic campaign in Chicago
Founded World Wide Christian Couriers
Broadcast over the Chicago municipal station (WBU) from city hall over the next two weeks starting June 3. Broadcast at irregular intervals from different stations for the next three years
Steel Tent holds first meeting on June 18. The campaign was announced as ending on Labor Day. Shortly before the end of the meeting, Rader and the staff of the meetings decide to establish the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle as a permanent church
First great missionary rally on September 17 (by 1932 were supporting 192 missionaries around the world)
1923 Evangelistic campaign in Philadelphia
1924 Rader resigned as president of the C&MA in January
Development of the Young People's Life Investment Movement, which involved young people in evangelistic outreach around Chicago
1925 Paul Rader givens the invocation at the first day of broadcasting of new Chicago radio station, WHT.
Beginning of regular radio broadcasts, starting on April 26, over station WHT, owned by once and future Chicago mayor, William H. Thompson. Rader agrees to provide fifteen hours of Sunday programming for the next ten years.
Held a memorial day picnic on May 30 at Tower Lakes Park in northern Illinois. 2000 people attended. This was the first of a series of church related events throughout the summer. But later in the year, Rader sold the land and instead made plans for a summer camp facility at Lake Harbor, Michigan
Evangelistic campaign in Ocean Grove, New Jersey
First issue of National Radio Chapel Announcer in December, a glossy magazine of over fifty pages about the Tabernacle's radio programs and other activities. With the June 1926 issue the name was changed to World Wide Christian Courier. The magazine was discontinued in mid1932
1926 Rader filled the pulpit of Angelus Temple from January through March during Aimee Semple McPherson's absence
Fourth annual Missionary conference, May 5-9
Chicago Gospel Tabernacle purchased a 217 acre site in May (including a half mile of beach front) in Lake Harbor, Michigan for a summer camp. Years later, after the Tabernacle has sold the property, this became the site of Maranatha Bible Camp
Opening of Lake Harbor summer conference grounds near Muskegon, Michigan, in June
World Wide Christian Couriers formed, ca. June, as a corporation to replace the Gospel Missionary Association. WWCC served as the corporate base for all of Rader's evangelistic activities, including the Tabernacle
Evangelistic campaign in Philadelphia, September 13-November 28
1927 Rader supporter Albert M. Johnson purchased the lot on which the Tabernacle stood.
The Tabernacle's Sunday broadcasts on WHT reduced to five hours in June because of Federal Radio Commission regulations
Clarence Jones, of the Tabernacle staff, dedicates his life to foreign missions during a summer conference at Lake Harbor. He begins plans which eventually result in his founding, with Reuben Larsen, missionary radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador
Reached agreement in September with station WJBT for Sunday broadcasts and the use of WBBM's transmitter
Christian Courier Club formed at the Tabernacle. The purpose was to involve laymen in evangelistic efforts, visiting homes, factories and prisons and holding street meetings
1928 F. F. Bosworth starts a series of evangelistic meetings (January 4- ?) at the tabernacle, with the Tindley Jubilee Gospel Singers
Paul Rader holds evangelistic meetings in Fort Wayne, Indiana, February 14-18
Sixth Missionary Conference, May 30-June 3
The Metropolitan Tabernacle (soon renamed the Cosmopolitan Tabernacle) started in Toronto on September 9, under leadership of Oswald J. Smith, who becomes the World-Wide Christian Courier's Canadian Director. The Tabernacle met in Massey Hall.
River Lake Gospel Tabernacle, under the leadership of Luke Rader (brother of Paul) opened on November 18 in Minneapolis. It is closely affiliated with the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. The Tabernacle grew out of meetings Luke Rader held in the city beginning in July. The Tabernacle continues to be a prominent church in the city for years to come
1929 Gerald B. Winrod becomes interim pastor of the Tabernacle in July while Rader is away on his missionary journey
Missionary journey (August 5-December 25) by Rader to visit missionaries supported by the Tabernacle and to lead evangelistic meetings in 22 cities, including Tokyo, Peking, and Shanghai. His travels took him to China, Japan, Borneo, India, Palestine, France, and England.
On his way home from London , Rader broadcast on December 22 on the ocean to 4,000 in the Tabernacle as well as the radio audience
1930 Tabernacle "Breakfast Brigade" broadcasts were carried over twenty-six stations (starting on April 28) on the east coast and the midwest over the CBS Network at 7am for seven days a week. The arrangement proved too expensive and was canceled by the summer.
Billy Sunday led evangelistic meetings at the Tabernacle, May 25-31
Lake Harbor Conference Ground opened for the season on June 28, which continued until September 1.
Rader led evangelistic meetings in Dixon, Illinois, July 20-August 16
The Tabernacle ended its broadcasts over WJBT on August 17. The Tabernacle continued to broadcast a few hours of programs over a variety of stations until the beginning of 1933.
Held meetings in Los Angeles
W. B. Hogg joined the Tabernacle and served as Rader's replacement during Rader's world wide missionary journey
Richard W. Oliver, of the Tabernacle staff, died in an auto accident on October 22
Farewell ceremony on November 2 for Rader and the missionaries traveling with him. His trip would include Toronto and Montreal, Ireland (where he held evangelistic meetings), Scotland, England, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Palestine, India, Singapore, Java, Bali, Borneo, the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Vancouver
Rader held a revival campaign in Belfast, Ireland, November 16-December 7
1931 Rader began an evangelistic campaign in Bombay, India, on January 10
Rader returns to Chicago from his missionary tour on May 4
Missionary conference, May 4-10
Evangelistic meetings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July lead by Ralph Rader, led to the start of a Tabernacle in that city, under George Ziemer
Clarence Jones, his family, and transmitter for the missionary radio station in Ecuador, HCJB, was dedicated to the Lord's service on the platform of the Tabernacle on August 2. Tabernacle members provide much of the support for the early ministry of HCJB.
Series of evangelistic meetings in Detroit in August leads to the formation of a Tabernacle in that city, under Rev. E. J. Rollings
Milwaukee Tabernacle opened in September
C. L. Eicher resigned as director of the Tabernacle's mission program on November 5
A Family Foundation was set up to help people in economic distress
1932 Rader led evangelistic meetings in Los Angeles in January, which resulted in the founding of a Tabernacle in that city, pastored by W. B. Hogg. Paul Fleming dedicated his life to the Lord during these meetings
The Tabernacle staff led by Rader redesigned the World Wide Christian Couriers to become a network of small clubs of men and women that studied the Bible and engaged in grass roots evangelism in their neighborhoods. Handbooks and other curriculum were prepared to help train them and bi-monthly conference were held to exchange experiences and help build enthusiasm. By the fall, sixteen other tabernacle, mainly in Midwestern cities, were starting Courier clubs in their cities. By the end of the year, fifty Courier classes were going in Chicago.
Rader holds evangelistic meetings in Plattsville, Illinois, in May and starts a tabernacle there.
Annual missionary conference, May 29-June 4
Paul Rader's Pantry formed (ca. June) to gather and can food for the needy. By the end of the year, the Pantry had fed 41,000 families, including 100,000 children
Chicago mayor Anthony Cermak participated in 10th anniversary celebration
First issue of The Courier, an eight page newspaper of Tabernacle activities, with emphasis on the Courier Clubs, is published on October 8
By October, in a number of cities throughout the Midwest, Rader has either started a Tabernacle or entered into some kind of affiliation with an existing independent church. These churches served as centers for Courier clubs. There are affiliated tabernacles in Akron, Appleton, Aurora, Des Moines, Detroit, Freeport, Elgin, Galesburg, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Muscatine, Platteville, Mt. Clemmens, Royal Oaks, and Zion.
A.M. Johnson no longer able to maintain the payments (October) on the lot in which the Tabernacle stood. Rader personally signed a note taking over the payments.
First Tamasha (Courier bi-monthly conference) held at the Tabernacle on November 18
Toward the end of the year, several of the Tabernacle staff had to be let go because of lack of funds
Radio program The Back Home Hour went off the air in December. It was later continued by Luke Rader, among others.
1933 Paul Rader went to Los Angeles on February 12 to attend to difficulties with the tabernacle in that city. Clarence Ericksen substituted for him in Chicago. Rader then was legally unable to leave California because of the debts owed by the Los Angeles Tabernacle
Because of lack of funds, Tabernacle radio ministry went off the air in February
Because of overwhelming debts against the World Wide Couriers organization, Rader decided in April the Couriers should declare bankruptcy and severed it from the Tabernacle, and resigned as pastor. Clarence Ericksen became his successor, assisted by Merrill Dunlop.
Last issue of The Courier published on April 29
Lance Latham founds the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago and is joined by several Tabernacle families. The first service is held on Easter Sunday. Latham, who had been in charge of Tabernacle Scouts, the Tabernacle's program for boys and the White Shirt Brigade, a boys choir, later (1950) founded the Awana Clubs, a Christian youth ministry
Rader received DD and LLD from Bob Jones College on May 31
Rader led summer revival meetings during the Chicago World's Fair
The Chicago Gospel Tabernacle resumes the broadcasting in the Fall of "The Heaven and Home Hour" under Clarence Ericksen
1934 Rader led summer revival meetings during the Chicago World's Fair
WWCC was reorganized at the World Wide Gospel Couriers on August 10
1935 Bankruptcy of the World Wide Christian Couriers finally resolved in court and assets divided in May
Rader became pastor of the Fort Wayne Gospel Tabernacle in Fort Wayne, Indiana until 1936. Paul Fleming, who later founded New Tribes Mission, was assistant pastor.
Evangelistic meetings in Detroit
1937 Chicago Gospel Tabernacle incorporated as a church in March
Paul Rader's preaching tour of Great Britain cut short by illness
1938 Returned to California in the United States in January. Remained ill and in the late spring was admitted to Hollywood Hospital.
Died on July 19 in Hollywood Hospital, Los Angeles, California of cancer of the prostate
Funeral services on July 22 at the First Presbyterian Church, Hollywood attended by over 2,500. Buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California
1939 World Wide Christian Couriers was dissolved in January
1963 Congregation sells the Tabernacle building and moves to another building on Sheffield Avenue, retaining the name "Chicago Gospel Tabernacle." The original building became a supermarket and later a sports supply store.
1979 The congregation of the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle disbanded. Remaining financial assets are given to missionaries the church supported and to Moody Bible Institute to start the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle-Paul Rader fund to support education for inner-city students.

Tabernacle film footage

Click on the player above to see a silent contemporary film about the Tabernacle. (Please note: The film has no sound track.) This film was created ca. 1928 for unknown purposes. It includes brief scenes of some of the Tabernacle activities (such as the choir, band, radio programs, missions) and of its leaders (including Paul Rader, Clarence Jones, Merrill Dunlop, and Lance Latham.) The total running time is approximately 15-1/4 minutes.

Tabernacle audio

Almost no recordings remain of the thousands of hours that were broadcast from the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle. Featured here are three of the few remaining moments that have been preserved.

Program broadcast on June 3, 1930. Paul Rader is the speaker in a presentation that combines the creation of the world, the life of Christ, and Christian witness in the modern world. Notice how the Tabernacle was using speech, sound and music to prodcue a program especially designed to use the strengths of radio, rather than just broadcasting a sermon. About 13 minutes.

Another clip from June 3, 1930. After the Men of Note singing a verse of Marching to Zion, Rader invites the audience to join in singing the hymn. About 2-1/2 minutes.

The short undated sermon "The Stone Age." This was on one side of a phonograph record that the Tabernacle gave away as a gift to anyone in the radio audience who wrote in requesting it. About 4 minutes.


Most of this exhibit was based on the holdings of the Billy Graham Center Archives, especially Collection 38, the Paul Rader Collection. Bob Shuster (left) and Paul Ericksen (right) of the BGC Archives staff developed the exhibit you are viewing, which opened on November 1, 2003. Bob selected the exhibit items and created the text and captions, while Paul worked on the production, site construction and visual design.

Our student workers Jeff Aernie, Evan Kuehn, Jonathan Seefeldt, and Todd Thompson also contributed by scanning items, inserting the code for many of the page links, and helping with design testing. We are indebted to those who assisted us by pre-testing the exhibit, offering their observations, suggestions, and helping us discover things that didn't work or could work more smoothly.

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