Convinced that the only proper way to celebrate evangelism is to do more of the same, Billy Graham and his team came back preaching last month to the scene of their first big success.

The low-key silver-anniversary commemoration centered on a three-night crusade in the Hollywood Bowl sponsored by CHRISTIANITY TODAY and a special committee of Los Angeles area churchmen. On the closing evening Editor Harold Lindsell paid tribute to Graham as a “spokesman to the world” and presented him a bound volume of congratulatory letters, a number of them from important figures in American life who made decisions for Christ at Graham rallies.

All three services were videotaped to be telecast later around the world.People in non-English speaking countries are now seeing crusade telecasts with lip-synchronized translations.

Graham also was honored at a Variety Club banquet attended by dozens of Hollywood dignitaries. He was cited as “a man who has spoken face to face with more people than any person who has ever lived—carrying a message of hope to a generation of people groping for answers.” The 55-year-old evangelist was given a “gold card,” only a few of which have been presented previously, and all to heads of state.

Graham politely acknowledged all the accolades but repeatedly disowned the credit. He asked the crowds to talk about God rather than Graham. Programs for the anniversary celebration carried on the cover the opening stanza of “To God Be the Glory.” Offerings in excess of expenses were channeled into famine relief.

The mini-crusade in the 17,500-seat Hollywood Bowl drew crowds estimated at 12,000, 14,000, and 15,000, despite a transit strike. A school of evangelism, the largest ever conducted by the Graham team in the United States, attracted some 1,600 pastors and seminarians.

Twenty-five years earlier, Graham and his associates had come to the sprawling, smog-bound “City of the Angels” at the invitation of about a dozen Christian businessmen. The revival meetings, as they were then called, were held in a tent on an empty lot at the corner of Washington and Hills streets (see photo). The tent held 6,000 persons. Graham recalls it was about half filled for the first service on September 25, 1949. The crowds began to swell, however, and the meetings were extended. Media interest was built up following the conversion of several Hollywood celebrities. The revival lasted until November 25, by which time word had been flashed around the world of the responsive Los Angeles populace.

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Graham’s star has continued to rise ever since. His ministry grew to embrace motion pictures, radio, television, and literature—including the monthly magazine Decision, the most widely distributed religious periodical in the world, which this year reached a circulation of five million.

Graham said he had a strong feeling of nostalgia in returning to Los Angeles, where in the intervening years he has drawn crowds of more than 134,000 at a single service in the Coliseum. So did team members who have stuck with him since those tent meetings: Cliff Barrows, Bev Shea, and Grady Wilson. Several people who served on the sponsoring committee for the 1949 revival were platform guests at the Bowl.

The world has changed a lot more than they have in the last quarter century, and Hollywood is not nearly the cultural pacesetter it once was. Politicians and idealistic prophets are displacing professional performers in the public mind.

For their part, Crusade workers today are much more reticent about releasing the names of notables who respond to Graham’s invitation to receive Christ. They are more interested in doing discipling follow-up among all comers, and improving efficiency at all levels. On the whole, however, the evangelistic methods used in the tent are much the same. And the Gospel that is preached is identical.

Helping, Guilty Or Not

Chicago’s near north side was called “Little Hell” when D. L. Moody ran a Sunday school of 1,500 there a century ago. Conditions haven’t improved much since. The biggest police scandal of Mayor Daley’s tenure erupted last year when scores of Chicago’s “finest” were found to be on the take from night-club operators and vice lords in the area.

Neighborhood black ghetto youths from the Cabrini-Green housing project (pop. 13,275; 70 per cent fatherless families) have little more than high-rise apartments of the Gold Coast super-rich to look up to. Many are bitter about the system. Five years ago one stood on a chair in a church coffeehouse and shouted at the staff, “Put your Jesus back in your bag and keep him there. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for ten years and haven’t seen you do anything to help us.”

Gang fights forced LaSalle Street Church, located two blocks north of Moody Bible Institute, to close the coffeehouse. But the small church (125 members) picked up the youth’s challenge and now sponsors a plethora of neighborhood ministries. These include a free legal-aid clinic, a counseling center (with graduated fees), skill-teaching youth programs, a bookstore and art gallery tailored to avant-garde young urbanites, nutritional meals and outings for senior citizens, and other means of “bringing relief to suffering and healing to hurt.”

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LaSalle’s legal-aid clinic is believed to be the only one in the nation run by an evangelical church. It is headed by Chicago attorney Charles V. Hogren, a 38-year-old bachelor who is a graduate of Wheaton College and Northwestern University Law School. During 1973, its first year of operation, the clinic handled 233 cases. Of the eighty-nine criminal dispositions presented, fifty-four were either dismissed or given a verdict of not guilty.

The idea for the clinic grew from Hogren’s involvement in LaSalle Street’s tutoring program for illiterate neighborhood youths. “Word got around that I was a lawyer,” he recalls. “Parents began calling me to help get their kids out of jail. I was probably the only lawyer they knew.”

When Hogren’s after-hours case load reached twenty, he suggested to Pastor William Leslie that the church sponsor a legal-aid clinic, and Leslie concurred.

At first glance, Pastor Leslie’s enthusiasm for the project seems out of character with his background: he once served as student-body president at Bob Jones University, which has a policy of segregation. After his junior year, however, he dropped out. “I had a little falling out with the founder over blacks and some other issue” is all he will say. After graduating from Wheaton College’s graduate school, he became pastor of the largest Conservative Baptist church in Illinois, at Pekin, and then became Pastor Alan Redpath’s assistant at Moody Church in Chicago. While at Moody he became concerned about the struggling LaSalle Street Church a mile away, which was on the verge of being crushed by rapid population changes. Soon after moving to LaSalle in 1961, he concluded that to build a vital ministry required a transfusion of mature Christian leaders who could come as missionaries from stronger churches. One he recruited was Hogren, a layman at Moody Church.

Hogren offered to resign most of his private practice and head up the legal-aid clinic. He pointed out that a neighborhood black youth charged with a misdemeanor might receive little or no help at all from the city public defender’s office. Guilty or innocent, said Hogren, a ghetto youth often could not make bail and might be jailed with hardened criminals before his case came to court. On the other hand, a youth from a middle-class white family was usually released on recognizance.

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The church agreed to sponsor the clinic if outside funding could be secured. An evangelical foundation pledged $15,000 for rental of two offices and the salaries of Hogren and a secretary. Nearby DePaul University Law School authorized up to six hours of credit for student interns to assist Hogren at the clinic. The dozen DePaul students now involved—all but two of them black—do research, reports, and interviews of clients and witnesses. Seniors handle some trials.

While the legal-aid ministry operates on a no-strings-attached basis, the evangelical cause has nevertheless benefited. One of the law-school interns, formerly bitter at what he considered was the church’s lack of involvement in human suffering, has become a Christian. Neighbors whose youngsters have been helped have begun showing up at church services. Others see the church in a new light and are less hostile.

The clinic has more work than it can handle. Another Christian attorney is ready to join the staff at a sharp cut in income. But, says Hogren, the clinic’s financial situation is desperate. The original foundation grant has run out, a loan of $7,000 from the church’s own limited funds has been depleted, and unless other support sources are found, the clinic will close this month.

Still, Leslie and Hogren are hopeful. “Christ identified with the repressed and exploited,” Leslie says. “We must be willing to take risks and do no less.”


Cornelius: At Home In Rome

Not everyone appreciates the Cornelius Corps, of course. On a warm morning in the outskirts of Rome recently one woman, when offered a tract, turned away and said tartly: “I have my own religion; I have no use for that.”

Corps workers don’t knock Roman Catholicism, or any religion, for that matter; they just preach Christ and personal salvation through him. Those who show interest are invited to attend one of twenty home Bible studies conducted weekly by team members. And those who confess Christ are channeled to a central worship service held once a week in a leader’s apartment. These converts are the nucleus of a congregation that will remain after the team has gone.

Saturation-type evangelism overseas, by young people serving as short-term missionaries has been effective before, particularly by such groups as Youth With a Mission and Operation Mobilization. But Royal Peck, Greater Europe Mission’s man in Italy, thinks he has come up with a new twist that could have great potential for the church’s worldwide mission program.

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Cornelius Corps is a pilot program in an urban area of northeast Rome and the realization of a dream Peck has had for more than fifteen years. The basic concept is that young workers are to give two years to the tasks usually associated with career missionaries: pioneer evangelism, church-planting, and discipling of new believers.

The first team of twenty-five men and women, ranging in age from 21 to 42, arrived in Florence a year ago for an intense three-month language program (Peck and other leaders are impressed by how quickly short-termers learn). The corps includes students, teachers, and several businessmen, from eleven U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. Last December they were transferred to apartments in Rome’s Val Melaina-Nuovo Salario, an upper-middle-class area of high-rise apartments. A target area of twenty-four square blocks with a population of about 150,000 had been selected. “As far as we knew,” says Peck, 48, an enthusiastic man who has lived in Rome for twenty years, “there wasn’t a single evangelical Christian living in the whole area.”

Each corps member raised his own support of $288 a month plus $2,000 cash from churches and friends before leaving North America. Since most of the workers are single, expenses are relatively low. And Peck cites another advantage also: many Christian young people who might hesitate to make long-range commitments are glad to give several years in overseas missionary service.

The corps started work in a thirteen-block primary area within the target community in a low-key ministry of presence. For a month and a half they walked around, getting to know people, pushing stalled cars, carrying groceries, doing free baby-sitting, teaching English. “Each day the twenty-five prayed that the Lord would allow them to help someone in a concrete way,” said Peck during an interview in a Rome sidewalk cafe. “We wanted to visibly demonstrate the love and concern of Christ.”

Last April 15 “operation friendship”—the first phase—was converted into the evangelistic “invasion” of the prime target.

Each day corps members converge on the community’s main open-air marketplace. They hand out tracts, tell Bible stories to youngsters, give testimonies, sing. All communication is in Italian. Cornelius Corps is there, and the Italian residents know it. They know also that the team will be around tomorrow, and next week, and next year.

Between April 15 and August 1, Peck said, there were more than eighty professions of faith, seventy of them by target-area residents. Half the confessions have been by adults, and Peck estimates that fifteen to twenty of these “are continuing in the Word.” He says that since April the team has conducted ninety open-air encounters, made door-to-door calls on 1,500 families, and distributed 5,000 tracts and 750 Bibles or Bible portions.

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Although he stresses that the program is experimental, Peck is cautiously optimistic. During the previous twenty years of his work in Rome, he pointed out, he averaged about fifteen converts a year with half of them progressing in discipleship.

A difficult, hard-to-crack area and class of people were chosen, Peck continued, in order to estimate the chances of future success in other places. Cornelius Corps II is already forming; it is due to join Corps I in January. Greater Europe Mission leaders will take a hard look at the program after Corps II ends its two-year stint.

Peck and his co-worker wife, Elizabeth, hope it will serve as a pattern for local church-planting worldwide.


Religion In Transit

As a result of the United Presbyterian Church’s budget crunch and depletion of unrestricted capital reserves, the jobs of two dozen denominational executives and a number of clerical employees have been terminated. Meanwhile, a theologically conservative group—concerned about both economic and theological issues—is studying way to guarantee support of evangelical overseas missionaries. The group has not ruled out the possibility of forming a new missions board.

Writing in the Asian Report, researcher Paul E. Kauffman says 300,000 on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan have been baptized in the last nine years.

Tennessee’s 1973 “Genesis Law” was ruled unconstitutional by a Nashville court. The law, scheduled to take effect next year, required public school biology texts to give equal space to biblical and evolutionary accounts of the origin of life, and to specify that evolution is only a theory. Americans United for Separation of Church and State was among the groups challenging the law.

A stay order issued by a U. S. District Court judge has enabled some 200 Bob Jones University students (including eighty new ones this year) to receive Veterans Administration benefits until at least January 1, pending the outcome of a higher-court appeal by BJU. The VA had announced it could not pay benefits (averaging about $220 a month) to future enrollees because of BJU’s admitted policy of racial discrimination in admissions.

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The National Council of Churches’ special ministries unit will establish “information, counseling, and support services” in the United States and Canada for Viet Nam war resisters responding to President Ford’s clemency program. The plans include a counseling center for military deserters at Indianapolis.

At the recent centennial meeting in Cleveland of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, WCTU president Mrs. Fred J. Tooze said U. S. alcoholic consumption increased by 115 million gallons between 1972 and 1973. Total consumption last year was 4.8 billion gallons, an annual per capita amount of “twenty-three gallons of booze” for every American, said Mrs. Tooze, citing a U. S. Treasury Department report.

Nearly 2,000 claims by persons over age 45 have been registered against the bankrupt Calvary Temple of Denver and related enterprises. Pastor Charles E. Blair, whose 2,000-family church is in receivership, has vowed that the investors will be repaid.

More than 100 members of the traveling “Christ Is the Answer” Jesus people’s group were jailed in Decatur, Illinois. Police say the youths failed to leave a K-Mart department store where they were leafleting shoppers.

Noted Minnesota surgeon William A. Nolen, who wrote the best-selling The Making of a Surgeon, says in a forthcoming book he couldn’t find a single cured patient among twenty-six persons who thought they had been healed in meetings conducted by evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman. Follow-up studies, he asserts, showed that two cancer patients were in much worse shape, some didn’t suffer from the disease reported, and one left a wheelchair she didn’t need. Denying he was out to put down the evangelist, he says his own religious background had convinced him that faith could play a role in healing.

“Praise ’74” a three-day Christian musical happening sponsored by Maranatha Village in Santa Ana, California, last month attracted more than 20,000 to the Orange County fairgrounds to hear Christian recording artists and to visit the booth displays of some 100 Christian agencies.

The United Church of Canada’s largest (3,200 members) and wealthiest (assets of more than $8 million) congregation—Timothy Eaton Memorial United Church in Toronto—invited an Anglican priest to become minister when Pastor C. Andrew Lawson retires next year. But Anglican bishop Lewis Garnsworthy of Toronto blocked the priest, Herbert O’Driscoll, dean of Vancouver, from accepting. The bishop cited “practical problems” of relating to both denominations.

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Maharishi International University, a Transcendental Meditation institution, opened with several hundred students last month on the campus of defunct Parsons College (“Drop-out U.”) in Fairfield, Iowa. Townspeople say they like the new look around town (MIU’s unwritten dress code is not unlike that of a fundamentalist college). At current rates, a four-year education at MIU will cost more than $14,000. MIU bought Parsons for $2.5 million (Parsons’s debt was $16 million).

A. D., the joint magazine of the United Church of Christ and the United Presbyterian Church, gave its second annual Freedom of the Press Award to Thomas Oliphant, a Boston Globe reporter indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to his coverage of the Wounded Knee occupation.

Some 400 persons participated in the second national meeting of the North American Congress of Chinese Evangelicals, held recently in Wheaton, Illinois. A continuing committee was appointed to draft plans for a national organization and for other cooperative endeavors.

More than 500 delegates and observers took part in the 800-congregation Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada’s twenty-ninth biennial general conference in Regina, Saskatchewan. Alberta district superintendent Charles Yates was elected general secretary.

Born: Evangelical Thrust, thirty-six-page monthly organ of the 1,000-plus-member Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.

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