Retro Charlotte

1947: Billy Graham Revival in Charlotte

November 9, 1947
November 9, 1947 The Charlotte Observer

*Slideshow is below the story*

More than 60,000 people experienced Billy Graham’s 1947 Charlotte crusade, and the Charlotte Observer reported that the two-week revival resulted in more than 1200 conversions. Here’s a recap of the event as Charlotte’s favorite son returned home.

9,000 Hear Billy Graham in Closing Revival Services: Great Results Brought About During Series

November 24, 1947

The Billy Graham revival of two weeks in Charlotte, ending last night at Armory Auditorium with an attendance of 9,000 for two services, and a total of approximately 60,000 for the series, resulted in more than 1,200 conversion and 50 additional Christian workers who dedicated their full time to religious work.

The first four meetings were held in the First Baptist Church, starting, November 9, and the remainder, with one Saturday night exception, were held in Armory Auditorium.

The afternoon service yesterday totaled 4,000 with hundreds turned away, and with extra seats installed last night, the attendance ran up to 5,000, it was reported by the ushers.

There were 18 services, including two children’s rallies, and two services on the two Sundays of the revival.

“It was, I believe, the most successful revival ever held in Charlotte,” said Vernon Patterson, chairman of the revival committee. “We had virtually 100 percent co-operation from the ministers of Charlotte, and nearly 50 churches gave us their full assistance. Billy Graham preached one of the most profound and dynamic series of sermons I have ever heard. We in Charlotte are proud of him, because he is Charlotte’s own son.”

Concerning the revival, Billy Graham said: “Cliff Barrows and I prayed that in my home town we should have a successful and soul-stirring revival. I have been thrilled with the way God has blessed our meetings. I have been happy indeed with the hospitality showered upon me and my associates. We asked God to give us a great time. He has answered our prayers. What happened in Britain during our meetings there -- a great awakening of the spirit of Christ -- has happened here.”


Billy Graham came to Charlotte from a successful revival in Portland, Ore. He will leave early today for Bob Jones university in Greenville, S.C., where he will speak today and tomorrow. On Wednesday, November 26, he will talk to the ministers of all the churches at Augusta, Ga. Thursday, November 27, he will go to St. Petersburg, Fla., to address a mass meeting, and on Friday, November 28, he will speak at the First Baptist church in Miami, Fla. On Saturday, November 29, he will address a mass meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla.

His itinerary from December 1 until Christmas will comprise a series of meetings in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

His next big revival is scheduled to begin in Augusta, Ga., February 8, 1948. Later in the Spring he will go to Toronto, Canada, and thence to Amsterdam, Holland, and then back to the United States.

Cliff Barrows, of Los Angeles, Calif., his song leader, will accompany him after he leaves Charlotte.

The Charlotte revival was outstanding for the number of notables that participated in the meetings, mainly music stars. First came Beverly Shea, of radio fame; next Adora Norlander, of Minneapolis, noted woman gospel singer; then Gene Jordan, the famous marimbist; and Warren Zorn, brilliant young Chicago pianist. Billie Barrows, who is Mrs. Cliff Barrows, had spots on the program.

Gil Dodds, holder of the world’s indoor mile record, participated last Friday, running a footrace in the auditorium.

Dr. Harry D. Clarke who was with Billy Sunday the last eight years of that evangelist’s life, participated in one of the meetings. Robert G. LeTourneau, millionaire evangelist and industrialist, was in Charlotte to attend the dinner when plans for the Billy Graham revival were completed.

Prayer meetings were held daily at Second Presbyterian church, and Mr. Patterson’s committee met daily at Thacker’s. The campaign was heralded through the press, radio, and various forms of outdoor advertising, as well as being announced from the pulpit of Charlotte’s churches.

The Charlotte Hymn Singers, of 100 voices, participated as well as a massed Salvation Army band. Musical groups from Bob Jones university were on several programs.

Rev. Grady Wilson, born in Charlotte, and himself an eminent evangelist, conducted all outside meetings, and assisted Cliff Barrows in arranging each day’s program. Scores of Charlotte ministers participated daily in the services in one capacity or another. T.W. Aldred organized a group of ushers who were at all services, and J. Clyde White assisted in the musical programs. The Boy Scouts also served as ushers during the crowded days near the close of the revival.

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