Canadian Mennonite Brethren and Billy Graham

American evangelical evangelist Billy Graham

Mennonite Weekly Review‘s World Together Blog is running a neat post by Canadian Mennonite Brethren writer and historian Dora Dueck, about her tradition’s mid-century fascination with American evangelicalism’s golden boy, Billy Graham.

Here’s a taste:

I’ve recently been reflecting on how my denomination — Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches — got on board the Billy Graham train.

In 1962, in the MB Herald — the then brand-new English language magazine of Canadian Mennonite Brethren — there were no less than three articles on the rising evangelical star and an appearance on the cover, as well as other “notes” throughout the year. I gather from this coverage that there must have been some questions about how MBs might respond to the Graham phenomenon. Certainly public opinion about him varied.

The emphases of these articles can probably tell us something about MB concerns and values of the time. Three matters seemed especially important: his finances, his humility and his relationship to theological liberals.

Read the full post here.

Like the Brethren in Christ, the Mennonite Brethren were involved with mid-century evangelical institutions like the National Association of Evangelicals. The Canadian MB’s interest in Billy Graham reflects a similar interest within the Brethren in Christ. During the 1960s, the Brethren in Christ denominational newspaper, the Evangelical Visitor, re-printed a number of Graham sermons. Some church members wrote into the paper to describe their attendance at Graham evangelistic crusades. And the paper’s news section often described Graham events or speaking engagements. But unlike the Canadian MBs, I doubt the Brethren in Christ ever questioned Graham’s allegiance to theological orthodoxy.

Maybe some day I’ll get around to writing about the Brethren in Christ and Billy Graham a la Dueck.


About Devin Manzullo-Thomas

Father to Lucas. Husband to Katie. Prof and administrator at Messiah College. PhD student at Temple University. Member of Grantham BIC.
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2 Responses to Canadian Mennonite Brethren and Billy Graham

  1. Just a little tidbit from this corner – I was “saved” at a Billy Graham crusade in 1961! Now I’m a recently-credentialed BiC Reverend. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is still working on me – and I’m along for the journey, to the end.

  2. Another tidbit to go along with Donna’s — I attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Winnepeg, Manitoba in 1962 or 1963. Although I don’t remember much about the event (a visit to the Hudson Bay Store left more of a lasting impression), I’ve been told by others who were there and who are older than me (hard to believe there are such folks, I know) that Mennonite churches of all stripes were very much involved in bringing Billy Graham to the province. So it seems there was (and continues to be) appreciation among the prairie branch of the Canadian Anabaptist family for Graham and his ministry.

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