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Collection 410 Oral History Interviews with Arthur Rorheim

Identifier: CN 410

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews with Arthur Rorheim, executive director of Awana Clubs, International. Topics disussed include his childhood, his parents' Christian example, his conversion, the youth work of the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle, Paul Rader, Lance Latham, the origins of AWANA, and principles for establishing programs for boys and girls. The time period covered by the interviews is 1918 to 1989.

Arthur Rorheim was interviewed by Robert Shuster on March 31 and April 24, 1989.


  • Created: 1989

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Arthur Rorheim was born in Chicago in 1918 to Norwegian immigrant parents, Rasmus Ole Rorheim and Alida Rorheim. Art's brother, Roy, had been born four years earlier in 1914. The family moved back to Norway briefly after Arthur's birth, but returned to Chicago 1920 or 1921. The Rorheim family then lived in a house in Chicago where they often housed Norwegian emigrants for a time.

Rorheim was convinced of his need to know Christ by his parents, friends, and especially the words of his brother, Roy, before his death due to spinal meningitis in 1928. Rorheim accepted Christ at the age of ten, immediately after Roy's death, and became involved with the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle's youth ministry. It was there that Art first became associated with Lance Latham, who directed the White Shirt Brigade, a boys choir of which Art was a member.

After graduating from high school, Rorheim worked for eight years as a printer, but continued to be very heavily involved in the Tabernacle and youth work in his spare time. When he was twenty-six, Lance Latham asked him to be director of the North Side Gospel Center's summer camp. He agreed and quit his job. In the fall, he was hired as the Center's youth director. By this time he was married and had two children.

Over the years, Rorheim and others at the Center developed a program of Bible training and clubs for children at every age level. Other churches began asking for copies of the manuals and uniforms developed for the Center's program. By 1950, Rorheim, Latham and others involved in the program decided it needed to get its own facility and it should be incorporated as a separate organization - the Awana Youth Association (later changed to Awana Clubs International). Rorheim became its executive director.

Under Rorheim's direction, Awana provided upbeat programs for boys and girls which included such things as Olympics and the Fairmont Fair. The competition section of the program was always followed by a gospel presentation that focused on the importance of the atoning blood of Christ. During the 1950s, hundreds of young people became involved with Awana across the country.

Nine hundred Awana Clubs nationwide had been chartered by the year 1960. The headquarters were moved to a four thousand square foot facility on Belmont Ave. in Chicago. The continual growth of Awana necessitated a move to suburban Rolling Meadows in 1971. The change in name from Awana Youth Association to Awana Clubs International reflected the organization's shift from a national to a global emphasis.

Arthur Rorheim died in Oregon, Illinois on January 5, 2018.


4 Audio Tapes

200 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Arthur Rorheim in March and April, 1989.

Accession 89-20, 89-41

January 28, 1995

Robert Shuster

K. Cox

Collection 410 Oral History Interviews with Arthur Rorheim, 1918-2018
Bob Shuster
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US