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Collection 285 Papers of Torrey Maynard Johnson

 Collection
Identifier: CN-285
Correspondence, oral history interviews, scrapbooks, sermons, minutes, reports, photos, posters, newspaper and magazine clippings, brochures, audio recordings, video recordings reflecting Johnson’s life as an influential American Protestant from the 1930s through the 1990s. Besides documenting Johnson’s pastorates of Midwest Bible Church (Illinois) and Bibletown Community Church (Florida), his leadership of Youth for Christ International, and his activities as an independent evangelist, the collection contains information on the theological, organizational, and social development of American Evangelicalism in the last half of the 20th century.

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

This collection is divided into eight series. Series I consists of oral history interviews taped with Rev. Johnson in 1983 and 1984. The others are Johnson’s files as they were at the time of his death in 2002. The archivist maintained the order in which the files were found where this was possible. It seemed there had been some moving around of files over the years. For example, the Chicago Conventions Campaign folder would seem to have been at one time with the Torrey Johnson Evangelistic Crusade files in Series V, but was not filed with the correspondence. Similarly, almost all of the correspondence from Johnson’s years with the Midwest Bible Church and the Bibletown Church was kept with the correspondence, rather than the separate sets of files for each of those churches. The collection contains very little material from Johnson’s early life, up until 1933 when he became the first pastor of the Midwest Bible Church. After that, his ministry and public life is very well documented in these papers, although there is very little for very end of his life.

Series: 1: Audio Tapes

Arrangement: Chronological by when the interview was recorded.

Date Range: Interviews were taped 1984-1985. Events on the tapes cover ca. 1909 through 1960.

Volume: .14 cubic feet

Geographic Coverage: United States, especially Chicago area; Belgium, United Kingdom, Philippines

Type of Documents: Oral history interviews conducted by BGC Archives staff. Archives has tapes and transcripts

Subjects: Johnson’s life and ministry, early history of Youth for Christ, development of Protestant Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism in the mid-twentieth century, American evangelism, Paul Rader and the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle, appraisals of several Fundamentalist and Evangelical leaders, religious broadcasting, Wheaton College in the 1920s and ‘30s

Notes: Rev. Johnson was interviewed by Robert Shuster at the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton, Illinois, on October 23 and December 13, 1984, and on February 13 and August 14, 1985. See audio tape location records for additional information.

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Series 2: Paper Records (Box List)

Sub-Series 1: Correspondence

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1948-1987

Volume: 9.4 cubic feet

Boxes: 1-24

Geographic Coverage: Mostly the United States, but many letters from YFC workers, evangelists and missionaries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Latin America

Type of Documents: Letters, newsletters, a few attachments such as photographs, articles and newspaper clippings

Subjects: Evangelistic campaigns in the United States and elsewhere, YFC activities, Midwest Bible Church, Bibletown Community Church, Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in American society, social and political events in American society from the 1940s to the 1980s

Notes: The letters in this series seems to have been Johnson’s master correspondence files, although there are many letters in the other series and most letters in other series are not duplicated here. Johnson’s correspondence covers most aspects of his life, including his pastorates, his evangelistic campaigns, his activities as a well-known Christian leader. There is at least one letter from most other well-known Protestant Evangelical and Fundamentalist leaders, as well as many from less well-known pastors and Christian workers. The correspondence is largely about Johnson’s speaking engagements, his pastorate of Midwest Bible Church and Bibletown Community Church, and reports from other ministries. Theological, political and social events of the period are often touched on, such as presidential election campaigns. There are also letters to and from people becoming evangelists or missionaries who wrote to Johnson asking for advice and assistance, reports from missionaries in various parts of the world, much correspondence about YFC, reports from rescue missions, letters to supporters of his ministry, some counseling materials (Einar Christnesen), and references for young people known to Johnson who were applying to Christian schools.

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Sub-Series: 2. Youth for Christ Material

Arrangement: Folder titles by Johnson were retained by the Archivist. Loose materials or materials in unlabeled folders were given titles by the archivist. Folders are grouped together by content. Within each group, arrangement is alphabetical, then chronological.

Date Range: 1944-2001

Volume: 5.5 cubic feet

Boxes: 24-37

Type of Documents: Minutes, budgets, brochures, newsletters, newspaper clippings, correspondence, memorabilia including programs, Letters, reports, newspaper clippings, minutes of board meetings, programs, planning documents, brochures on events and programs, financial reports, annual reports

Geographic Coverage: United States, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Congo, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iran, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom, Venezuela.

Correspondents: James L. Anderson, George Chandler, Daniel Chang, Theodore Choy, Charles T. Cook, Robert Cook, Willy Diezeil, Robert Evans, Billy Graham, J. Brown Hendry, Eric Hutchings, James Henry Hutchins, Bob Jones Sr and Jr, Edgar Lacey, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Ruth Kerr, H. G. Martin, David Morken, Hubert Mitchell, Stephen Olford, J. Edwin Orr, Emerson Pent, Alan Redpath, William Bell Riley, Herbert W. Rumsfield, Walter Sauer, Gregorio Tingson, Saturnin Wasserzug, Reginald F. White, Jack Wyrtzen, Carl Applequist, Werner Burklin, Roger Cross, Peter Deyneka, Jr. (1992), William Drury (1985), Ted Engstrom, Ajith Fernando, Gerry Gallimore, Jim Groen, Ian Grant, Evon Hedley, Bernard Holmquist, Shan Kellar, Jay Kesler, Bruce Love, Roy McKeown, Al Metsker, Clyde W. Moore, David W. Schultz, Earl Schultz, Jr., Tedd Seelye, Sam M. Sherrard, Paul B. Smith, Greg Tingson, Stephen Wang, Jean-Jacques Weiler, George M. Wilson, Jim W. Wilson, T. W. Wilson (1999), Sam Wolgemuth, Dean Yoder

Subjects: Origins of Youth for Christ in the United States; evangelistic work among young people and teens; organization of mass evangelistic rallies in the late-1940s, the development of YFC organizations in other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America; American attitudes toward Europe at the end of World War II; YFC-USA and YFC International’s administration and ministry, especially in the last two decades of the twentieth century, the early history of YFC, the development of YFC in various countries around the world.; Johnson’s activities as a YFC speaker, fund-raiser, and board member, leadership transitions within YFC, the development of Youth for Christ International as a coordinating group for the national organizations

Notes: Johnson’s involvement with Youth for Christ was one of the major themes of his life from 1944 on, and YFC information can be found in all the series in this collection. However, the substantial amount is in series II. Series A contains material from the formation period of YFC and Johnson’s leadership from 1944 until 1948. Series II contains material documenting his continuing involvement with YFC after 1948 as a board member, speaker, fund-raiser and encourager. Both sections include many, many reports from YFC programs all over the United States and other parts of the world. There are extensive files on the planning and program of the 1945 Memorial Day rally in Soldier Field in Chicago (folder 27-14) and of the first YFC World Congress in Beatenberg, Switzerland, in 1948 (folders 24-11, 25-1, 29-3). Between those two events were Johnson’s trips for YFC to Great Britain in 1946 (folders 25-3 to 25-9, 26-2) and to Germany in 1947 (folders 26-5 to 27-1). Billy Graham, Chuck Templeton, and J. Stratton Shufelt accompanied Johnson on the British trip. For both of these trips there are several files that document the trip itself and the continuing contacts and YFC organizations that grew out of them. Folder 27-11 contains correspondence with Bob Jones, Sr., and Jr. about the possibility of Bob Jones, Jr., going on the British trip in 1946. The letters and reports also contain information on conditions in Europe immediately after World War II and the increasing American involvement there. Other files in this subseries contain letters, programs, minutes and other documents relating the activities of YFC evangelists in many countries, especially the United States (folders 24-7, 24-8, 25-2, 25-10, 26-1, 26-4, 27-3 to 27-5, 27-8 to 27-10, 27-15, 27-19, 28-3, 28-8 to 28-10, and 29-1, among others; see folder 28-4 for the programs of many YFC meetings in the United States), the annual YFC business meeting and rally at Winona Lake Indiana (folders 28, 529-4), and positive and negative reaction to the YFC movement in the country at large (folder 25-12, 29-2). Of especial help for the history of the development of YFC are the executive council minutes in folder 28-5.

Later files describe Johnson’s continuing involvement in YFC after he resigned his presidency in 1948. There is very little material from 1948-1980. More can be found in other parts of this collection about speaking engagements of Johnson’s for YFC during those years. However, there is voluminous materials for the 1980s and 1990s. These include correspondence with leaders of YFC organizations on a local, regional, and national level as well his involvement as a board member in YFC International. Johnson’s frequent speaking engagements and fund raising efforts for YFC are also reflected in the material, such as his speaking tour of South Africa in 1986 (folder 31-2). Johnson attended most of YFC’s triennial international conferences, so most of these are also well documented in his files. The meetings were held in 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica; in 1971 in Nicosia, Cyprus; in 1974 Les Diableret, Switzerland; in 1977 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; in 1980 in Birmingham, England; in 1984 in Hong Kong; in 1987 Manila, Philippines; in 1990 in Nairobi, Kenya; in 1993 in Chicago, USA; in 1996 in Taipei, Taiwan; and in Azusa, California, USA. From 1985 through 1999, there are many letters, reports, minutes of meetings, program and grant proposals and similar materials that Johnson received as a board member of YFC International (folders 33-7 through 36-2). These files are a very rich source of data for the activities and plans of the YFC movement worldwide. Folder 25-10: Correspondence on Robert Cook’s growing responsibility in the movement, also a 1948 letter in which Johnson lists his reasons for resigning as president of YFC

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Sub-Series 3. Sermons and Speeches

Arrangement: Alphabetical

Date Range: 1934-1979

Volume: 2.5 cubic feet

Boxes: 37-42

Type of Documents: Sermon notes, sermon transcripts, clippings of material to be used in sermons

Subjects: Angels, Christmas, baptism, Mother’s Day, books of the Bible, Christian theology, Christian life, sin, salvation, Jesus Christ, authority of Scripture, talks on the Christian life for teenagers

Notes: These were materials that Torrey apparently kept for reference and reuse. Most files contain only brief outlines or fragments of sermons, although folders 41-5 and 42-1 contain complete texts. Most are Johnson’s own sermons, although there are many texts from other preachers as well. Each of the folders 39-23 to 41-4 contain notes that were kept together as a group in Johnson’s files, without title or description. Many of the other notes were arranged by the book of the Bible that provided the major text and this arrangement has been kept, although the archivist put them in alphabetical order rather than the book-of-the-Bible order it had been in. There are a few folders that have sermons grouped by subject, such as folder 41-4, on water baptism. (This actually contains pamphlets on the subject which Johnson apparently used as reference.) Some of the outlines might have been for classroom lectures that Johnson heard as a student. There is no folder 38-8. The folder were misnumbered. Because this error is also on the microfilm version of the papers, it was corrected. Exceptional items:

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Sub-Series 4: Midwest Bible Church Materials

Arrangement: A group of miscellaneous items arranged by year, followed by a set of folders in alphabetical order. (Arrangement supplied by archivist)

Date Range: 1935-2000

Volume: 1.25 cubic feet

Boxes: 42-44

Geographic Coverage: Chicago, Illinois

Type of Documents: Minutes, annual reports, church bulletins, handbills, anniversary booklets, correspondence, attendance records, correspondence

Subjects: History and development of Midwest Bible Church, Johnson’s leadership as pastor, Youth for Christ, the Great Depression, the World War II home front, evangelistic work in Chicago

Notes: The records in this section, although somewhat sketchy in parts, give a good picture of the life of the Midwest Bible Church during the pastorate of Johnson (who was also the church’s founder). Because Johnson stayed in touch with the congregation, there is also information on the history of the church for the half century following his departure. The records from the 1930s through the 1950s give a good picture of an independent Fundamentalist/Evangelical church in a large Northern city, with emphasis on the church’s doctrine, fellowship and evangelistic outreach. Among the typical documents are the church’s annual reports (folder 43-10), constitution and by-laws (folder 43-12), the summer camp for children and adults (folder 42-5 through 42-8), fund raising prospectuses for a new buildings (folder 42-8, 43-8), magazine and newspaper clippings about events at the church (folders 42-8, 42-15, 43-4, 43-14, 44-9), membership directories (folders 43-4, 43-15), worship bulletins folders (folders 42-15 through 43-1), a funeral service for a longtime member (folder 42-13), papers of the board of elders (folders 42-14), the church’s magazine (folders 42-12, 43-13), form letters sent out to announce various church events and needs (folder 44-3), doctrine instruction material used of children over 12 and new members joining the church (folder 44-8), pastor’s newsletter (folders 42-16, 43-1, 44-3), the annual missions conference (folder 43-3), a description of the church’s development and support of missionaries (folder 44-5), and attendance records for church services and Sunday school (folder 43-11). There is also a good deal of celebratory material in the folders on the occasion of the dedication of the new church building in 1940 (folder 43-14), the tenth anniversary of the church’s founding (folder 42-11), the twentieth anniversary of the church’s founding and Johnson’s resignation as pastor (folder 43-3), the fiftieth anniversary of the church (folder 43-6), and the sixtieth anniversary of the church, including notes for the talk Johnson gave (folder 43-7). Midwest Bible also had an active radio ministry. During Torrey’s pastorate, two radio programs were started - Chapel Hour and Songs in the Night. The church’s radio department was called the Midwest Church of the Air. Folder 44-9 contains various documents on the history and development of the radio programs, including a brief histories of Songs in the Night written on its thirtieth and fiftieth anniversaries in 1973 and 1993 and a newsletter from the brief period of Billy Graham’s leadership of Songs in the Night. Folder 44-6 contains issues of the newsletter Midwest Messenger, which was apparently sent to listeners to Chapel Hour and also perhaps to church members who were serving in the armed forces during World War II. The newsletter contains information about the church, the radio program, and the early days of Youth for Christ in Chicago. It also is interesting for what it shows about the home front during the war. There is also a great deal of information about Johnson’s pastorate at Midwest in the scrapbooks covering the years 1933 to 1943 in the Photo Album File and in the early correspondence.

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Sub-Series 5: Torrey Johnson Evangelistic Crusade, Inc. Materials

Arrangement: Most of the files are arranged by year, although there are a files of generic materials at the end that are arranged alphabetically by folder title. Material was roughly in chronological order, but the exact arrangement was supplied by the archivist.

Date Range: 1943 -1981

Volume: 1.6 cubic feet

Boxes: 45-48

Geographic Coverage: United States, Canada, Israel

Type of Documents: Correspondence, handbills, sermons, newspaper clippings, programs for services, instruction sheets on how to organize evangelistic meetings, schedules

Correspondents: Carl Anderson, William Berntsen, Robert A. Cook, Robert Cooley, Gary Dausey, Donald Hubbard, Al Metsker, Tal McNutt, Vernon Mortenson, Harold Ockenga, Harold Penrose, Frank Phillips, John R. Rice, Paul B. Smith, T. W. Wilson

Subjects: Johnson’s evangelistic ministry, especially in the 1950s and ‘60s, the early years of Youth for Christ, the theological and organizational basis of American Fundamentalist and Evangelical evangelistic meetings, American urban and suburban life in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Notes: Probably sometime in the early-1950s, Johnson organized the Torrey Johnson Evangelistic Crusade, Inc., (TJEC) to serve as legal entity through which his evangelistic meetings were organized. This series contains materials relating to Johnson’s many speaking engagements at individual churches, conferences, special evangelism meetings and evangelistic campaigns. Most of the folders from 45-8 through 47-7 contain one or more of Johnson’s prayer letters, which he sent to people on his mailing list to inform them about his recent activities and future plans. Box 45 of TJEC materials includes several folders from the years before Johnson had a formal organization, most notably from Johnson’s YFC years. Apparently Johnson used the TJEC drawer to keep many, although not all, of the folders dealing with speaking engagements apart from his pastorates. Folder 48-6 contains a partial listing of his speaking engagements from the mid-‘60s to the late ‘80s, along with some material from the 1950s. There is almost no financial information in the series. The researcher should also remember that there is a great deal of information on evangelistic meetings and other activities in the yearly scrapbooks Johnson kept about his activities (photo albums I through XII and XVI) and in the correspondence in series II. The folders in this series contain specific information on dozens of communities where Johnson held meetings, in some cases just a scrap of a newspaper clipping, in other cases many, many documents of different types. Among the cities/regions for which there is information are: Oakland, California (1950, folder 45-6); Peoria, Illinois (1951, folder 45-7); Walla Walla, Washington; Fort Dodge, Iowa; Anchorage, Alaska; Warren, Ohio (1953, folder 45-8); Denver, Colorado; Kennewick, Washington; Albany, Oregon; Lebanon, Oregon; Lethbridge, Alberta (1954, folder 45-9); Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania (1955, folder 45-10); Vancouver, Washington; Palatine, Illinois (1956, folder 45-11); Olympia, Washington (1957, folder 46-1); Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Liverpool, England (1958, folder 46-2); Portland, Oregon; Ocean City, New Jersey; York, Pennsylvania; Toronto, Ontario (1959, 46-3); Rockford, Illinois; Dixon, Illinois; Seattle, Washington; Bellingham, Washington (1960, folder 46-4); San Diego, California; St. Petersburg, Florida; Tampa Bay, Florida; Rock County Wisconsin; Spokane, Washington; (1961, folder 46-5); Anderson, Indiana; Minot, North Dakota (1961, folders 46-5 and 46-6); Youngstown, Ohio; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Korea (1962, folder 46-7); Brazil (1963, folder 47-1); Rockford, Illinois; Portland, Oregon; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1964, folder 47-2). TJEC was apparently started to provide an ongoing base for city-wide evangelistic meetings, involving several churches and/or Christian organizations in a community. The folders from 1950 to 1965 (folders 45-1 to 47-3) contain correspondence of many different types from the campaigns Johnson led during these years, usually with Hilding Halvarson as his song leader. (See also folder 3-3 and Photo Album X for information on the 1952 Conventions Campaign with Jim Vaus.) There are also numerous documents from other types of speaking engagements, which became predominant after the mid-‘60s. There are relatively few examples of the messages that Torrey delivered at the evangelistic campaigns, except for extracts of his sermons in newspaper clippings (such as those in folder 46-6) and some transcripts (folders 45-5, 45-6, and 45-8). There is also little statistical information , except for what can be found in folder 48-5. (There are, in folder 48-3 contain an interesting set of returned questionnaires, apparently from people on Johnson’s mailing list, giving their opinions on what they would like to see in an evangelistic meeting and what they saw barriers to such meetings were.) There is much more information on how the meetings were organized, churches involved, the meetings publicized and ushers, choirs and counselors prepared. (folders, especially in folder 46-5, 4-6-7, and 48-1.) Folder 48-1 also contains samples of the way that other evangelists, such as John R. Rice and Frank Phillips, organized meetings. Amy Anderson was Johnson’s secretary for years and folders 45-9 through 46-3 include her correspondence with Johnson while he was on the road. These letters describe activities at the office, plans for future speaking engagements, repots on contributions, etc. These give a good picture of Johnson’s activities in the late 1950s. Folders 47-3 through 47-17 mainly contain correspondence about a wide variety speaking engagements, usually at individual churches or Bible conferences, after the mid-1960s. Folders 46-4 and 47-3 contain information on tours Johnson led to the Holy Land, reflecting the commitment of American Evangelicals to Israel (see folder 45-7 for the script of a slide tape presentation, not by Johnson, which is a sympathetic view of the new state of Israel. The Archives does not have the slides that go with the script). Folder 47-10 documents the First World Congress on Missions, organized by the Dr. Ralph Winter of the U.S. Center on World Mission; Johnson had planned to speak at the meeting, but was unable because of illness. Other folders include information on speaking engagements at Biola’s annual Torrey Bible Conference (folder 47-10), the New England Fellowship of Evangelicals (folder 47-12), the Taiwan Missionary Fellowship (folder 47-13), Northwestern College in Minnesota (folder 47-13), the People’s Church of Toronto (folder 47-13), Gordon Conwell Seminary (folder 47-17), and The King’s College (folder 47-17). There is also information on other evangelistic ministries, such folder 48-2, which contains brochures about the work of Eric Hutchings, Hyman Appelman, and Charlie Turner or folders 45-1 and 45-2, which have information on Jack Wyrtzen and Word of Life or the material on Jim Vaus and H. Thomas Claus and the American Indian Crusade in folder 45-7.

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Series 6: Bibletown Community Church and Conference Center Materials

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title. Most of the folder titles are original, a few were assigned by the archivist

Date Range: 1953-2000

Volume: .8 cubic feet

Boxes: 48-50

Geographic Coverage: Boca Raton, Florida

Type of Documents: Reports, brochures, minutes of meetings, church bulletins, newspaper clippings, correspondence, membership directories

Correspondents: Donald Andrews, Carl Bihl, David Breese, Milton Hill, Neil Macaulay

Subjects: Bibletown Community Church and Conference Center, American Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in the 1960s through the 1980s

Notes: In 1967 Johnson retired as an independent evangelist to become pastor of the Bibletown Community Church and President of the church’s conference center. The materials in this series document his leadership at Bibletown from 1967 to 1982. There are also a few documents from the history of the institution before and after his pastorate. Constitutions and proposed revisions to the constitution from the 1970s and ‘80s are in folder 49-3. Johnson’s initial call and welcome to Bibletown is documented in the correspondence in folder 49-4. Documents relating to his retirement are in folder 52-2. Minutes and reports from the church’s board of elders and board of trustees of the church are in folders 48-8 to 48-12. The trustee board seems to have been created in the 1970s and discontinued by 1984. During that time the trustee were responsible for the financial and temporal affairs of the church, with the elders responsible for the spiritual welfare of the church. Some of the church’s annual reports from the last half of Johnson’s leadership are in folder 48-7. Membership directories, including lists of staff and some information on and pictures of ministries of the church are in folder 49-8. Bulletins from weekly church services, mostly from 1981 and 1982, are in folder 49-1. Programs for thirty years of the Bibletown conference, mainly winter conferences, are in folder 48-13. These were planned as a combined Bible conference and vacation for laymen in the church and brought people from all over the country. The programs give some idea of the interests and theology of Evangelicals in this time period. A sample of the packet given to registrants at the conferences can be found in folder 50-3.

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Series 7. Miscellaneous Materials

Arrangement: The materials in this series were originally almost all loose and unfoldered. Materials were arranged by subject by the archivist, who also assigned most of the folder titles.

Date Range: 1928-2001

Volume: .4 cubic feet

Boxes: 50-51

Geographic Coverage: United States, especially Chicago area

Type of Documents: Correspondence, reports, newsletters, certificates, programs, academic papers, minutes

Correspondents: Kenneth Campbell, P.J. Cullerton, William E. Currie, Enock Dyrness, V. Raymond Edman, Ralph Gade, Charles W. Koller, Theodore Mercer, Vaughn Shoemaker, Marlin H. Thomas, Robert C. Van Kampen

Subjects: Johnson’ life, ministry and theological development, Wheaton College history, Evangelical Christian evangelistic outreach, including outreach to Jews, the development of Christian retirement communities starting in the 1980s

Notes: The materials in this collection are a grab bag of loose material, mainly from the beginning and end of Johnson’s adult life.

Dates

  • Created: 1919 -2001

Conditions Governing Access

Correspondence of Billy Graham in folders 5-6, 14-5, 20-1, and 27-2 have been removed for the lifetime of Rev. Graham. The microfilm reels containing these folders are not available during the lifetime of Rev. Graham.

Extent

25.45 Cubic Feet

51 Boxes (51 DC); Audio Tapes, Films, Oversize Materials, Phonograph Records, Photographs, Photo Albums, Lantern Slides, Videos other_unmapped

Biographical or Historical Information

Full name Torrey Maynard Johnson, Sr. Birth March 15, 1909, in Chicago, Illinois, USA Death May 15, 2002 Family Parents Father: Jacob Martin and Thora Matilda (Evensen) Johnson Siblings Five brothers and sisters Marital Status Married Evelyn Nilsen, October 30, 1930 Children Ruth (Faircloth)(1933), Torrey Maynard, Jr. (1938?), Arleen (Yoder) (1943) Conversion January 1927, during a meeting in Pierce Chapel, Wheaton College Ordination May 24, 1930, as a Baptist Education Samuel P. Chase and Thomas Waters Elementary Schools, Chicago ca. 1926 Carl Schurz High School, Chicago 1926-1930 Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, graduated with a B.S. 1927-1929 Northwestern University's Dental School, the McKinlock campus in Chicago (Johnson has intended to become an oral surgeon, but changed his mind when he felt a call to the ministry after his conversion.) ?-1936 Northern Baptist Seminary, Chicago, Illinois, graduated with a B.D., completed course work for doctor’s degree, but did not do dissertation Career 1926-1930 Operated his own ice business in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, during the summer, earning his college tuition 1930-1931 Pastor of Messiah Baptist Church, 2930 Flourney Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 1931-1933 Traveling Bible teacher, young people’s leader, evangelist 1933-1953 Founder and pastor of the Midwest Bible Church, 3469 N. Cicero Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The church grew from 26 to1000 members during his pastorate and had a campus of ten buildings 1935 Began to preach frequently on the radio 1936-1940 Instructor in New Testament Greek , Northern Baptist Seminary 1941 Began the Chapel Hour radio program on station WAIT and was on the air regularly with a variety of programs, including Songs in the Night and Midwest Church of the Air 1943 Johnson served as Midwest representative of the newly-formed National Association of Evangelicals 1944 Johnson was one of the founding members of the National Religious Broadcasters; on November 15-17, a group of regional Youth for Christ leaders met in Detroit created Youth for Christ International, with Johnson as chairman of the temporary executive committee. 1945 A meeting of representatives of YFC met July 22-29 to create a permanent structure for the organization. Johnson was elected president 1945-1948 Served as first president of Youth for Christ International. Johnson was the leading organizer of the national and soon international movement, speaking around the country and leading missions to Europe in 1946 and 1947. Johnson resigned in 1948 and was succeeded by Robert A. Cook. Ca. 1950 Incorporated the Torrey Johnson Evangelistic Crusade, Inc., which he continued to maintain for the rest of his life 1950-1967 Active as an independent evangelist, mostly in the United States, but also held meetings in other parts of the world 1967-1982 Pastor of the nonsectarian Bibletown Community Church and President of Bibletown, which held Bible conferences and concerts in Boca Raton, Florida 1982-ca. 1993 Actively involved in the planning and development of the Willow Valley Manor, a retirement community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Served as chairman of the board starting in 1982. 1985-1993 Chairman of the board of Windsor Park Manor, a retirement community in Wheaton, Illinois. (Originally called Cambridge Park Manor, renamed in 1987). 1982-2002 During the last decades of his life, Johnson was especially active as a fund-raiser and speaker for Youth for Christ, International, and attended several international meetings of the organization, as well as serving on its advisory board. Other significant information He was named Torrey because of the admiration his father had for the work of Reuben Archer Torrey, prominent evangelist of that period. The Johnson family lived in Humboldt Park and several other Chicago area locations, and were members of the Evangelical Free church. They also owned a cottage in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, where they spent the summer months. While at Wheaton College, he was active in the sports program and elected to the Scholastic Honor Society. He was president of the Wheaton Alumni Association 1936-1940. Johnson was also a member of the board of directors or on the advisory council of many Evangelical and Fundamentalist ministries, including All Nations Evangelistic Fellowship, American Association of Jewish Evangelism, the American Messianic Fellowship (Chicago Hebrew Mission), American Indian Crusade, Bob Jones University, Bryan College, Greek American Missionary Association, Hindustan Bible Institute, Inc., the Ken Campbell Evangelistic Association, The King's College, Light Bearers Association, and Slavic Gospel Association. He was a member of Pi Gamma Mu (National Social Science Honor Society), a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London, England, and listed in Who's Who in America. 1945 Johnson received two honorary degrees: a D.D. from Wheaton College, and an Hum.D. from Bob Jones University. 1949 Johnson was awarded an honorary LL.D. from Northwestern Schools, Minnesota.

Accruals and Additions

The tapes in Series I were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives in October and November 1984, and in February 1985. The rest of the material in the collection was received from the Johnson family in 2002 and 2003.

Accession: 84-123, 84-154, 85-17, 85-104, 87-55

August 14, 1985

Frances L. Brocker

J. Nasgowitz

January 22, 1990, revised

J. Nasgowitz

L. Beloz

March 8, 1993, updated

Robert Shuster

K. Baisley

Accession: 02-57, 03-33

August 9, 2004

Bob Shuster

J. Aernie

E. Kuehn

T. Thompson

Related Materials

The following items are located on the shelf in the Archives Reading, BGC 307:

Accession: 02-57

NOTE: The issues listed below have been microfilmed and are available for interlibrary loan. Reel C1 contains March 1945 through December 1948 (There is no January issue for 1946 and there are two March 1946 issues, one of which is a Special European Edition) Reel C2 contains February 1949 through December 1952 Reel C3 contains January 1953 through March 1954

YOUTH FOR CHRIST MAGAZINE.

Loose Issues:

Vol III - 3 (March 1945, 3 copies), 4 (April, 1945, 2 copies), 5 (May 1945, 2 copies), 6 (June 1945), 7 (July 1945), 9 (September 1945), 10 (October 1945), 11/12 (November and December 1945)

Vol. IV - 2 (February 1946), 3 (March 1946), 4 (April 1946), 5 (May 1946), 6 (June 1946), 7 (July 1946), 8 (August 1946), 9 (September 1946), 10 (October 1946), 11 (November 1946), 12 (December 1946)

Vol. V - 1 (January 1947), 3 (March 1947), 4 (April 1947, 2 copies), 5 (May 1947), 5 [sic] (August 1947), 7 (October 1947), 9 (December 1947), 12 (March 1948)

Vol. VI - 1 (April 1948), 3 (June 1948), 9 (December 1948) Vol. VII - 2 (May 1949), 7 (October 1949), 8 (November 1949), 10 (January 1950) Vol. XI - 4 (July 1953)

Bound Volumes:

1945 - Vol III, Numbers 3-12 (March-December)

1946 - Vol. IV, Numbers 2-8 (February-March), plus special European Edition. [Numbers for different months are often duplicates]

1947 - Vol V, Numbers 1-9 (January-December) [Numbers for different months are often duplicates, volume contains all 12 issues for the year]

1948 - Vol. V, Numbers 10-12 (January-March); Vol. VI, Numbers 1-9 (April-December)
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Repository Details

Part of the Billy Graham Center Archives Repository

Contact:
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630-752-5910