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Collection 675 Papers of John Minder

Identifier: CN 675

Scope and Contents

Letters, reports, clippings, handbills, newsletters, brochures, pamphlets selected from the papers of Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor John Minder related to his mentorship of Billy Graham while Graham was a student at Florida Bible Institute (FBI) and their continuing friendship. To a lesser extent, the papers also document Minder’s mentorship of other students and evangelists, such as Roy Gustafson and Jimmie Johnson, as well as his leadership at FBI, the Tampa Gospel Tabernacle, and the Lake Swan Bible Conference.


  • Created: 1927-1992

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: John Minder

Birth: June 8, 1898 in Akron, Ohio

Death: September 27, 1980 in Alachua, Florida (buried in Eliam Cemetery, Melrose, Florida)


Parents: Andrew and Elizabeth Minder, originally of Switzerland

Siblings: Jacob, Elizabeth, Frederic, Lydia, Ernest, Mary, Freda

Marital Status: Married in March, 1945 to Laura Lorene Clifton (1912-2007)

Conversion: At approximately age 17 during an evangelistic campaign led by Howard Kelly of the Calvary Baptist Church. He then began attending the Locust Street Alliance Church


1915 - Graduated from Akron West High School, Akron, Ohio

1917-1919 - Missionary Bible Institute, Nyack, New York, and studied under A. B. Simpson; took a post-graduate course in 1919

1919-1920 - Post-graduate course at a school in Time Square, New York City, New York


circa 1915 - Worked at the post office as a substitute mail carrier

1915-1917 - Worked at a B. F. Goodrich Rubber Company plant as a pattern maker

1918 - Assisted in tent meetings Huntington, West Virginia, with E. Rowe

1919-1920 - Assisted R. A. Forrest with tent meetings in Georgia and led meetings with Roscoe Stull in South Carolina and Georgia

1920-1921 - Founded Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Ensley, Alabama

1921-1922 - Minder began holding tent meetings in Melrose, Florida, and began, with Roscoe Stull and W. T. Watson, a C&MA church there. He also began buying parcels of land around nearby Lake Swan.

1924 - Led tent meetings in Tampa, Florida, which led to the founding of the Tampa Gospel Tabernacle. The church belonged to the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

1924-1930 - First pastor of the Tabernacle, moved into a permanent building at 2314 Jefferson Street in 1925

1927-1961 - Founded and served as first director of the Lake Swan Bible Conference in Melrose, Florida

1929 - Assistant Superintendent of the Southeastern District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (the nine states east of the Mississippi and south of the Potomac River)

1930-1934 - Superintendent of the Southeastern District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance

1935-1940 - Served in many roles at Florida Bible Institute (soon renamed Trinity College), Tampa, Florida, including professor, dean and board member

1934-1935 - Began daily radio program broadcasting to southern Georgia

1937-1945 - Served second pastorate at the Tampa Gospel Tabernacle

1952 - Film Representative for Billy Graham Evangelistic Films in southeastern United States

1958 - Deeded the property of the Lake Swan Bible Conference to the Christian and Missionary Alliance

1960-1978 - Returned to Trinity College as a teacher

October 1, 1963 - Officially retired as a C&MA worker, but remained just about as active as he ever was in various ministries

Other significant information:

1937-1940 - Served as mentor to Billy Graham while Graham attended Florida Bible Institute. Gave Graham his first preaching opportunity on March 28, 1937, at East Palatka Baptist Church in Palatka, Florida. Graham also taught children at the Lake Swan Bible Conference and served as Minder's assistant pastor at the Tampa Gospel Tabernacle.

August 13, 1943 - Performed marriage service for Billy Graham and Ruth Bell in Montreat, North Carolina


1.00 Box (DC)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Arrangement section, the notation “folder 2-5" means “Box 2, Folder 5"] Scope and Content

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title. The material was received in unlabeled folders in no particular order, so archivist provided arrangement and folder titles.

Date Range: 1927-1992 (most materials 1935-1960)

Volume: .5 cubic feet, 1 Box

Geographic Coverage: Florida, San Diego, California, Salt Lake City, Utah

Type of Documents: Letters, reports, clippings, handbills, newsletters, brochures, pamphlets

Correspondents: Ralph Edwards, Lois Ferm, Billy Graham, Jimmie Johnson, John Minder, Lorene Minder, John Pollock, Charlie Riggs, Merv Rosell, Dennis Smith, Oswald Smith, Walter Smyth, George Wilson, Grady Wilson, T. W. Wilson

Notes: The materials in this collection were selected from John Minder’s papers by his widow, Lorene, and sent to John Corts of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who passed them on to the Billy Graham Center Archives. Mrs. Minder sent materials that had some kind of fairly direct connection to Billy Graham or to Graham’s friends and fellow evangelists Roy Gustafson and Jimmie Johnson.

Exceptional items: Minder was a mentor as well as professor to Graham during the latter’s time as a student at Florida Bible Institute. He also provided Graham with some of his earliest preaching opportunities and his earliest ministerial employment, as assistant pastor at the Tabernacle Gospel Tabernacle and teaching the children’s classes in the summer at the Lake Swan Bible Conference.

Folder 1-1 contains Minder’s appointment book for 1938 (although there are some appointments for 1939 in the very beginning). It seemed to function more as a diary than an appointment book, since Minder apparently made entries after the event. Most pages are blank, but among the entries that are there are several references to Graham’s speaking engagements (with fellow student Ponzi Pennington as song leader) as well as some on scraps of papers written much later about Graham and other students. An undated hermeneutics paper by Graham on Isaiah 6 is in folder 1-8.

Folder 1-7 contains a program from a performance put on by the senior class (including Graham). The same folder contains what seems to be Graham’s autographed copy of the school’s 1939 yearbook.

Folder 1-14 contains various programs and other documents from the Tampa Gospel Tabernacle and some of the church programs have brief references to Graham’s service as assistant pastor. The program for May 1940 contains a very brief evangelistic message by Graham, the earliest in the Archives. The same program contains a photo and information on Mrs. Emily Massey (nee Cavanagh), who before her marriage had been Graham’s girlfriend for a time.

There are brief incidental mentions of Graham during his time as an FBI student in letters in folders 1-4 and 1-11. A booklet on the school days of Graham at FBI was prepared for Graham’s visit to the campus in 1965 and can be found in folder 1-7. Minder’s continuing friendship with Graham after the later’s graduation in 1940 is also briefly documented in several folders, particularly folder 1-6. This folder contains some of the letters the two men wrote each other (almost all from Minder) describing briefly their current doings.

The connection of Minder to the entire Graham family is shown by a note to John and Lorene Minder from Margaret Graham, the wife of Billy’s brother Melvin. There are also incidental mentions about Graham and his activities in letters in folders 1-10 and 1-11. In 1957, Minder participated on an episode of the program This is Your Life, dedicated to Graham and folder 1-4 contains a brief thank you note from host Ralph Edwards.

Folder 1-3 contains clippings that Minder apparently saved about Graham, including one on the 16th anniversary of the Tampa Gospel Tabernacle at which Graham was one of the speakers. Some of the clippings recall Graham’s school days at FBI and his first preaching experience at Cecil Underwood’s church. See also the clipping attached to a February 26, 1961 letter from a T. G. Reynolds in folder 1-4 on the same subject.

Graham was the main speaker at a program at Lake Swan Bible Conference in September 1972 when the new dining hall and chapel were dedicated. The occasion was also used to honor Minder’s many years of service. Florida Governor Reuben Askew also attended. A scrapbook from the event is described in the location record below.

The materials in the collection also show how Minder continued to be involved over the years in various aspects of the ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). For a brief time in 1952, Minder was a film representative of Billy Graham Evangelistic Films in Florida, arranging for the booking and showing of BGEA films such as Mr. Texas.

Folder 1-2 contains an extensive set of documents about his work, including reports, receipts, and publicity materials on films.

Folder 1-4 contains several letter from Dennis Smith, apparently another former student, reporting on his efforts to have a Billy Graham crusade in Salt Lake City, Utah This crusade never happened.

Folder 1-5 contains various interesting documents on BGEA projects, such as a comic book produced in 1951 and reports from the mid-1960s from British author John Pollock about the authorized biography he was writing about Graham. Minder was helping him set up interviews with people from Graham’s days at FBI. The same folder also contains a letter Minder wrote to Lois Ferm about a recent illness of which he was miraculously healed.

In 1972 Minder wrote Paul Alford about the possibility of Graham buying some C&MA property in Orlando, Florida to start a Christian academy. At Graham’s invitation, Minder attended the 1968 Pittsburgh Crusade and the 1976 San Diego Crusade. Folders 1-5, 1-6, and 1-9 contain letters and other documents form the events.

Folder 1-9 in particular contains a wide range of materials Minder picked up during the San Diego meetings and give a good idea of the organization and events of a typical Billy Graham meeting. Minder’s own ministry as a church planter, pastor, Bible teacher and teacher is document in the folder with FBI materials (1-7) and Tampa Gospel Tabernacle (1-14). Minder’s arrangements for other evangelists such as Merv Rosell and Oswald Smith to preach at the Bible conference and the tabernacle are documented in folder 1-4.

Minder was also a mentor and advisor to many of his other former students as well, such as Jimmie Johnson and Roy Gustafson. This is demonstrated by the letters in folders 1-4, 1-10, and 1-11.

There are two significant letters from Lorene Clifton Minder, John Minder’s wife. A 1982 letter to Jimmie Johnson in folder 1-11 describes John Minder’s last days and death. A 1992 letter to John Corts, president of the BGEA, describes how she was sorting through her husband’s papers and sending portions to various places.

Folder 1-12 contains a program celebrating (in 1944) the one-year anniversary of the Youth for Christ club founded by Roger Malsbary in Indiana. Folder 1-13 contain some material by and about W. B. Riley which Minder apparently collected.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Lorene Minder via John Corts in June, 2010.

Accession 10-43

June 11, 2014

Bob Shuster

T. Gulasekharam

Collection 675 Papers of John Minder
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