The evangelist’s six-city tour was his most effective effort in that country.

The outlook for England’s churches has been dire. Only 9 to 14 percent of the population attend church regularly, and many church buildings sit empty.

However, Christians in England are speaking of renewed optimism, and evangelistic zeal is returning to many of that country’s 35,000 churches. Nowhere was that zeal more evident than at a series of Billy Graham crusades over the summer. Covering six cities from May through July, some 5,000 churches officially participated in the meetings. Graham’s crusades made up the second phase of a three-year interdenominational evangelistic emphasis called Mission England.

“There’s been a harvest gathering for years, but nobody’s been able to reap it,” said Nigel Walker, an Anglican clergyman working with Mission England in the Liverpool area. “Billy Graham is still the man to reap what I believe in this country is a great harvest.”

Statistics bear out Walker’s conviction. After three months of meetings, 1,026,600 Britons had heard Graham in person. Nearly 97,000 responded to his invitation to receive salvation through Christ. The rate of response exceeded 14 percent at one meeting in Sunderland. The response rate for all the meetings (called “missions” in England) averaged more than 9 percent, roughly double the usual response in the United States.

Graham was overwhelmed by the crowds that jammed six soccer stadiums to hear him preach. “It has gone so far beyond what … any of us had anticipated,” he said. “In fact, it’s beyond anything we have ever experienced in England in the many years we have been coming here.” In 1946 and 1947 Graham and Cliff Barrows held 360 meetings in Britain, and they have returned many ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: