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Collection 584 Papers of Thomas F. Zimmerman

Identifier: CN 584

Scope and Contents

Audio tapes, phonograph records, photographs, correspondence, minutes, reports, clippings, speeches, and other materials related toThomas F. Zimmerman's leadership in a number of conservative American Protestant organizations and evangelistic efforts. The bulk of the collection relates to his involvement in the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization both internationally and in the United States, but there is also information on his work with the 1985 American Festival of Evangelism (AFOE), the American Medical Association's Medicine and Religion Committee, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), Key 73, the National Association of Evangelicals, National Religious Broadcasting, and the 1983 Year of the Bible.


  • Created: 1955-1990

Conditions Governing Access

Folder 34-1 closed until January 1, 2034

Folder 9-3 is closed until January 1, 2036

Folder 9-6 is closed until January 1, 2037

Folders 49-9, 10 and 50-1, 2 closed until January 1, 2040.

Biographical Information

Full Name: Thomas Fletcher Zimmerman

Birth: March 26, 1912, in Indianapolis, Indiana

Death: January 2, 1991


Parents: Thomas Fletcher and Carrie D. (Kenagy) Zimmerman

Marital Status: Married to Elizabeth H. Price, June 17, 1933

Children: Betty, Thomas Fletcher III, David

Conversion: 1919. Experienced baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1923

Ordination: 1936, in the Assemblies of God


1929 - Student at University of Indiana, Bloomington (did not graduate because family could not afford tuition)


1928-1932 - Assistant pastor to Rev. John Price - Indianapolis, Indiana

1930? - Worked briefly for a printing company - Indianapolis, Indiana

1933 - Pastor - Kokomo, Indiana

1934 - Pastor - Harrodsburg, Indiana

1934-1939 - Pastor - South Bend, Indiana

1939-1942 - Pastor - Granite City, Illinois

1943-1947 - Pastor - Springfield, Missouri

1944 - Founding member of National Religious Broadcasters

1945 - Started the Radio Department of the Assemblies of God (AOG)

1946-1949 - Narrator of the AOG's radio program, Sermons in Song

1949-1951 - Secretary-Treasurer, Assemblies of God's Southern Missouri District

1951-1952 - Pastor - Cleveland, Ohio

1952-1959 - Assistant General Superintendent, Assemblies of God

1954-1956 - President, National Religious Broadcasters

1957-1991 - Member of executive board of the National Association of Evangelicals

1959-1985 - General Superintendent, Assemblies of God

1960-1962 - President, National Association of Evangelicals

1962-1970 - Member of the Medicine and Religion Committee of the American Medical Association

1964-1965 - Chairman of the board, First American Security Life Insurance Company

1966 - Delegate to the World Congress on Evangelism, held in Berlin, Germany

1967 - Chairman, planning committee of the 1967 World Pentecostal Conference (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

1967-1991 - Board of Managers, American Bible Society

1970 - Chairman of Advisory Committee for the 1970 Pentecostal World Conference (Dallas)

1973 - Chairman of Advisory Committee for the 1973 Pentecostal World Conference (Seoul, Korea)

1974 - Delegate to the International Congress on World Evangelization, held in Lausanne, Switzerland

1976 - Chairman of Advisory Committee for the 1976 Pentecostal World Conference (London, United Kingdom)

1972-1985 - President, Assemblies of God Graduate School

1973 - Served on the executive committee of the Key '73, a nationwide evangelism effort which included many Christian denominations and organizations

1974-1981 - Served on the Lausanne Continuation Committee, which in 1976 became the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization(LCWE). He was a member of the executive committee from 1975 on and various other committees, including the finance committee and the 1983 search committee for an executive secretary

1976-1981 - Chairman of the Communication Working Group of the LCWE

1976-1985 - Chairman of the board, Maranatha Retirement Complex, Springfield, Missouri

1978-1981 - Chairman of the 1981 American Festival of Evangelism, held in St. Louis, Missouri

1979 - Chairman of Advisory Committee for the 1979 Pentecostal World Conference (Vancouver, Canada)

1982 - Chairman of Advisory Committee for the 1982 Pentecostal World Conference (Nairobi, Kenya)

1983 - Protestant vice-chair of the National Committee for the Year of the Bible (United States)

1984-1985 - Member of the executive committee of the National Convocation on Evangelizing Ethnic America, which met in Houston April 15-18,1985

1985 - Chairman of Advisory Committee for the 1985 Pentecostal World Conference (Zurich, Switzerland)

1986-1990 - United States president of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization

1989 - Chairman of Advisory Committee for the 1989 Pentecostal World Conference (Singapore)

Other significant information:

Family had been Methodists but joined a Pentecostal church in 1917 when his mother was healed of tuberculosis after being prayed over by members of the church.

Zimmerman also served on the executive committee or board of directors of many other organizations, such as the Pentecostal Fellowship of America. He was also active in his community and was on the board of directors of the Springfield, Missouri, public television station.


22.60 Cubic Feet (56 Boxes (DC), Audio Tapes, Phonographs, Photographs)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

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

Series: Audio Tapes

Tape 1: Recording of the meeting called by the North American Lausanne Committee to plan an evangelism congress, which later became the American Festival of Evangelism. The tape began with a brief devotional message by C. B. Hogue. He was followed by an introduction by Robert Coleman of Thomas Zimmerman. The rest of the tape (on both sides) is taken up by Zimmerman's discussion of what the congress should be, with comments from the audience. Concluded on T2. Folder 3-4 contains partial transcripts of this tape. Sound quality poor. March 18, 1978.

Tape 2: Conclusion of T1. This contains Zimmerman's responses to questions and comments from the audience. Folder 3-4 contains partial transcripts of this tape. Sound quality very poor. March 18, 1978.


Series: Phonograph Records

Phonograph 1: Produced by the Lutheran Laymen's League, 33 1/3 rpm, 7 minutes, Side 1 (there is nothing recorded on Side 2). Comments by Dr. Oliver Harms, head of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, introduced and concluded by Theodore Raedeke. Harms talks about the need for evangelism on a world scale (Christianity is a minority, numerically declining religion) and personally. He talks briefly about evangelism in terms of the LCMS's current programs and places it with the context of Bible, particularly the book of Acts. This record was apparently meant to be played for individual LCMS congregations. 1968.


Series: Photographs

Photographs in this collection are arranged topically into the following Photo Files:

GRAHAM, WILLIAM FRANKLIN "BILLY": 1980s Snapshot of Graham sitting with a group of Japanese individuals. Circa 1980. 1 color.

HOUSTON '85. Picture of the National Convocation on Evangelizing Ethnic America meeting in Houston, meeting in the South Main Baptist Church. April 1985. 1 color.

LAUSANNE COMMITTEE FOR WORLD EVANGELIZATION.  A Polaroid snapshot of the Lausanne Committee in informal dress. In the picture are Donald Hoke, Festo Kivengere, Leighton Ford, Gottfried Osei-Mensah, Rosemary Struckmeyer, C. Peter Wagner, Thomas Zimmerman. Undated. 1 color.


Series: Slides

BOX 21 : S1-S4. Slides of Zimmerman and Billy Graham at the 1981 American Festival of Evangelism in Kansas City, Missouri.


Series: Paper Records (Box List)

The documents in this collection relate only tangentially to Zimmerman's many decades of leadership in the Assemblies of God denomination. Files documenting that aspect of his ministry are at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri. The files in this collection consist of materials relating to Zimmerman's participation as a church leader in transdenominational or nondenominational organizations and programs, especially evangelistic programs. His prominence and importance in such efforts as Key 73, National Religious Broadcasters, and the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization reflects both Pentecostalism's growing importance in American Christianity and its acceptance in and joining of the mainstream of conservative Protestantism. This aspect of Zimmerman's life and ministry is implicit throughout the documents in this collections and very occasionally explicit.

Sub-series: American Festival of Evangelism (AFOE)

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title

Date Range: 1977-1985

Volume: 2.6 cubic feet; Boxes: 1-7

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Correspondence, minutes, budgets, news releases, notebooks of evangelism training materials, publicity materials

Correspondents: Paul Benjamin, Vonnette Bright, Duncan Brown, Robert Coleman, Allan Emery, Ted Engstrom, Jerry Falwell, Leighton Ford, Bill Gaither, Billy Graham, Richard R. Hamilton, Mark Hatfield, Ernest W. Holz, C. B. Hogue, Sterling Huston, B. Edgar Johnson, Erwin Kolb, Hugh O. MacClellen, Gordon McDonald, Billy Melvin, Harold Myra, Luis Palau, T.A. Raedeke, Pat Robertson, John D. Waldron, C. Davis Weyerhaeuser

Subjects: Planning, finances, program and impact of the American Festival of Evangelism; theology and practice of evangelism in the United States, including one-one witnessing, local church, state, regional, national; the Lausanne Committee of World Evangelization.

Notes: The idea for the AFOE grew out of an gathering of Protestant leaders invited to meet in St. Louis on March 16, 1978. by the North American branch of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. (The collection contains tapes and transcripts of this meeting.) That group formed a committee to plan an event to encourage and prepare Christians in America to share the Christian Gospel. The AFOE was incorporated in Missouri On March 1, 1979. Thomas Zimmerman served as chairman, Paul Benjamin as executive coordinator, C. B. Hogue as vice-chair, Ted Engstrom as Secretary, Erwin Kolb as treasurer, and Freda Jones as Festival secretary. The Festival was held July 27-30, 1981, in Kansas City, Missouri and was attended by eight thousand, including many laypersons and pastors. The keynote speeches and many specialized seminars were widely distributed afterwards as evangelism training materials, as were audiotapes of the workshops. The files provide a very full picture of the planning process, the involvement of the Lausanne Committee (particularly relating to coordination of fund-raising efforts for AFOE with the Consultation of World Evangelization held in Thailand in 1980), the speeches and seminars presented at the AFOE, and the efforts to distribute the materials from the meeting afterwards.

Zimmerman was particularly involved with the executive committee, the planning committee and the fund raising efforts. Correspondence with many leading Evangelicals can be found arranged alphabetically in folders 1-2 through 3-3. Exceptional items: Folder 3-4 includes an incomplete transcript of the tapes of the initial St. Louis meeting. These tapes are also in this collection, T1-T2. (See also folder 3-1 for more on the St. Louis meeting.)

It was always intended that the AFOE would produce notebooks of materials which could be used by local churches in their own evangelism programs. The final notebooks are in folders 4-4 through 5-3. These include written copies of the presentations of many leading evangelists and teachers. A complete list is in the front of notebook I in folder 5-3. Among the people represented are: (folder 5-3) Win Arn, Bill Bright, Jill Briscoe, Robert Coleman, Anthony T. Evans, Leighton Ford, Billy Graham, D. James Kennedy, Gordon MacDonald, Luis Palau, C. Peter Wagner, Thomas Zimmerman; (folder 5-2) Ben Armstrong, Sterling Huston, Howard O. Jones, Roger Palms, Theodore Raedeke,Tetsuanao Yamamori; (folder 4-4) Paul Benjamin, Vonnette Bright, Jeannette Clift George, Robert Glockner, Erwin Kolb, Charlie Riggs, George Wilson; (folder 5-1) Paul Benjamin, Bill Bright, Ted Engstrom, Roy J. Fish, Vergil Gerber, Carl Henry, Donald Hoke, Harold Lindsell, Jimmie McDonald, Stephen Olford. The hundreds of brief papers in these notebooks deal with almost every imaginable aspect of evangelism, including how to reach particular groups such as women, doctors, the elderly, college students, etc.


Sub-series: American Medical Association , Medicine and Religion Committee

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title, folder titles supplied by archivist

Date Range: 1962-1970 Volume: .6 cubic feet; Boxes: 7-8

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Reports, pamphlets, minutes, correspondence

Correspondents: Paul B. McCleave, Kenneth Clover

Subjects: American medical practice when it intersected with questions of religious faith, counseling methods, health care

Notes: This AMA committee, of which Zimmerman was one of the first members, was created to advise the Medicine and Religion Department of the American Medical Association. The purpose was to examine and prepare educational materials for doctors on questions where ministers and doctors would need to work together to provide holistic patient care or where religious beliefs might impinge on medical practice.

There is a great deal of information on the development of a program book that could be used by the AMA's county and state committees to develop their own medicine and religion programs. The materials in this section consist largely of reports of the MR department and its publications, although there are papers and proposals from other sources as well.

Zimmerman does not appear to have been a particularly active member, or perhaps the committee was not very active. Among the topics for which there are publications are: (folder 7-4) sex education, human sexuality, the human fetus's right to life, cooperation between clergy and physicians; (folder 8-1) counseling the medically ill; religious attitudes toward medical practice, the work of the chaplain, the cancer patient and the minister; hospital chaplaincy programs; (folder 8-2) medical missionaries, ethical implications of transplant operations, preparing a patient for death, grief counseling, medical ethics, theological education


Sub-series: Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title, titles supplied by archivist

Date Range: 1985-1987

Volume: .4 cubic feet; Boxes: 9

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Minutes, reports, newsletters applications for membership in the ECFA

Correspondents: Arthur C. Borden, George R. Grange

Subjects: Ethical financial practice for Christian non-profit corporations, tax reform affecting non-profit corporations

Notes: Zimmerman was a member of the board of ECFA until his resignation in 1986. The purpose of the council was to provide a standard of financial accountability for Evangelical ministries by requiring all members to abide by defined ethical practices. Organizations that applied for membership and were judged to meet the Council's standards could then advertise themselves as members of the EFCA. Most of the files deal with: (1) the applications of various Christian ministries to join the ECFA, (2) the defining of proper financial practices for Christian ministries, (3) materials on current tax reform suggestions that could effect non-profit corporations, and (4) the administration of the Council itself.

The very public scandals involving Jim and Tammy Bakker's PTL Ministries are reflected in the ECFA's investigation of PTL and the possibility of cancellation of their membership (folder 9-1). See also folder 12-2 in series V containing Zimmerman's presentation to the Christian Stewardship Council on the ethics of Christian fund raising.

Exceptional items: Folder 9-5 contains Zimmerman's letter of resignation because of the time constraints of other responsibilities and Arthur Borden's response.


Sub-series: Key ‘73

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title, folder titles supplied by the archivist

Date Range: 1969-1974

Volume: .8 cubic feet; Boxes: 10-11

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Minutes, reports, congregational resource materials

Correspondents: T. A. Raedeke

Subjects: the Key 73 evangelism effort, evangelistic work in the United States, methods of presenting the Christian gospel on individual and congregational levels, interdenominational cooperation

Notes: Key 73 was a joint effort by several Protestant denominations and Christian organization to present salvation through Jesus Christ to non-Christians across the nation at a grass roots, regional and national level. Zimmerman was involved in the effort from the very beginning and served on its executive committee. His papers include notebooks of minutes, reports, and correspondence of the executive committee on planning and coordinating the entire effort, as well as lists of participating organizations and individuals, plans for national coordination, and evaluations of what was done (folders 10-1, 10-3, 10-4). More evaluations as well as reports on the efforts made by individual denominations and Christian organizations, and samples of the materials being used can be found in folder 11-3.

Also in this sub-series are a notebook with the minutes and reports of the finance committee (folder 11-1), and the sample books sent to congregations showing the kinds of materials which were available for local evangelistic efforts (folder 10-2}



Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title. In most cases, the folder titles are original, although a few were created by the archivist.

Date Range: 1973-1990

Volume: 9.5 cubic feet; Boxes: 12-35

Geographic Coverage: Worldwide, with most material from the United States

Type of Documents: Minutes of meetings, reports, correspondence, conference proceedings, papers delivered at conference

Correspondents: Kenneth Chafin, Arthur "Jack" Dain, Ed Dayton, Leighton Ford, Billy Graham, Carl Henry, Don Hoke, Tom Houston, David Howard, John Howell, Stan Izon, Carl Johansson, Paul McKaughan, Gottfried Osei-Mensah, Roger Parrott, Bradford Smith, C. Peter Wagner, Thomas Wang Subjects: the origins and activities of the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization; the origins, program and impact of several evangelism conferences, including the World Congress on Evangelism (1966), International Congress on World Evangelization (1974), Consultation of World Evangelization (1980), National Convocation on Evangelization Ethnic America (1985), Lausanne II (1989); Protestant Evangelicalism, particularly in the United States

Notes: These files reflect Zimmerman's deep involvement in the Lausanne movement from its prehistory starting with the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism to Zimmerman's death. They particularly reflect his leadership as a member of the Lausanne Continuation Committee, the executive committee of the LCWE, and his five-year term as president of the United States branch of the LCWE, which did much of the fund raising to support the Committee's work worldwide.

Zimmerman's files contain some materials from the Continuation Committee (folder 13-4, see also folder 21-1) that eventually turned into the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization. Other material on the planning for the 1974 Lausanne Congress and the development of the Lausanne Committee can be found in folders 30-5 to 31-1. His executive committee files 21-1 through 24-5 contain some materials from the LCWE's early years, but they are most reflective of the period from 1984 to 1990.

Most files contain the reports, minutes, and other materials that were connected with one particular meeting of the committee, such as the materials from the September 1976 meeting in West Berlin in folder 21-4. They contain information on consultations and conferences sponsored or co-sponsored by the LCWE, publication plans, and discussions of how to be an effective resource for Christian evangelization around the world. Zimmerman also served on the finance committee. Folders 24-6 through 25-2 contain minutes, reports, and financial statements from this committee. He was usually involved in the search for high level staff, as reflected in the file of materials from the search committee to find a replacement for executive director Gottfried Osei Mensah (folder 34-1; note: because this file contained confidential evaluations of various applicants, the Archives staff restricted it for a period of fifty years).

He also served as the president of the United States branch of the LCWE. Much of the fund rasing for the worldwide work of the committee was done in the United States and some of the tensions this produced are reflected in the materials in folders 27-1, 27-5, 27-6, and 30-5 through 31-3, as are the conference, consultations and publications on evangelism planned by the USA section of the Lausanne Committee and their participation and leadership in major Lausanne events such as Lausanne II. One theme reflected generally in these materials is the effort to make the Lausanne movement truly reflective of the faith and practice of the Evangelical movement around the world, rather than just Europe and North America.

There are also many folders containing programs, papers, reports and other material from particular meetings, all of which Zimmerman played a significant part in planning. These include the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism (the predecessor of the Lausanne movement; folder 35-4 includes material on the early planning of the conference, Zimmerman's paper on eschatology, and his thought on the how the Pentecostal movement should relate to the congress), the 1969 US Congress on World Evangelism (folders 34-5 to 35-1), the 1980 Consultation on World Evangelization (folders 19-5 through 20-5, folder 20-3 contains a copy of the program and registrants, early planning material is in folder 19-5, and folder 20-4 contains information on subsidies for Assemblies of God workers to attend), the 1984 International Prayer Assembly for World Evangelization (folder 28-3), the1985 National Convocation on Evangelizing Ethnic America (folders 32-3 to 33-1), the 1985 Consultation of the Work of the Holy Spirit and Evangelization (folders 13-2 and 13-3), and Singapore '87 for the younger church leaders associated with the Lausanne movement (folder 34-2).

Zimmerman's files of correspondence with Billy Graham (folder 16-3 to 16-5) are concerned mainly with the formation of the Lausanne committee after the 1974 congress; the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's continuing support for the work of the committee, especially in regard to special events such as the 1980 Consultation and the 1989 Lausanne II meetings; and reports to Graham on the work of the committee. But there are also many letters dealing with Zimmerman's participation in Graham's ministry, such as his speaking at several of the BGEA's Schools of Evangelism, giving one of his sermons to be published in Decision magazine (September 1982), and his critique of Graham's book on the Holy Spirit.

There are also a few brochures and other materials from the early days of the Billy Graham Center. Folder 16-5 contains transcripts of some of Graham's addresses. such as his 1971 speech to the California state legislature, his sermon at Explo '72 and his welcome to the Lausanne Continuation meeting in Mexico City in 1975.

The folder also has his statement during the Key '73 events, addressing Jewish fears about the nationwide Christian evangelism effort. (Note: In accordance with the standard policy of the BGC Archives, the files containing the personal correspondence of Billy Graham are closed during his lifetime.)

Exceptional items: The Lausanne handbook in folder 28-1 contains a good brief history of the movement, as well as a summary of its structure and activities ca. 1982. This handbook was probably meant for new committee members.

Folders 21-7 and 31-2 contains papers given at the 1978 North American Conference on Muslim evangelization. A perspective on Lausanne II by a World Council of Churches staff member can be found in folder 27-4.

Folder 13-2 contains an interesting historical review on the Lausanne movement prepared in 1985. Folders 35-2 and 35-3 contain study papers, workbooks and other publication from Wheaton 83, a nonLausanne conference on Evangelical missions.


Sub-series: National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title

Date Range: 1956-1990

Volume: 3.2 cubic feet; Boxes: 36-43

Geographic Coverage: United States T

ype of Documents: Minutes of meetings, reports, correspondence, convention programs, pamphlets and brochures, resolutions, budgets, audit reports Correspondents: Billy Melvin

Subjects: Evangelicalism in the United States, interaction between Christianity and culture in the United States, relations between church and state, interdenominational cooperation, the history and development of the NAE, political, social and cultural events in the United States from the late 1950s to the 1980s

Notes: Zimmerman served as president of the NAE in the early 1960s and always remained a member of its senior decision-making committees. The files in this series mainly contain documents from his membership on the executive committee and the board of administration, although there is also correspondence on NAE matters and files relating to his attendance at several NAE annual conventions.

The board of administration files (folders 36-7 through 39-2) are a good source for NAE history and concerns, since they contain reports from the various commissions and other bodies of the NAE, such as World Relief, Theological Commission, Stewardship Commission, Woman's Fellowship, Higher Education Commission, etc.

The records of the board, as well as those of the executive committee (folders 41-1 through 43-1) are to a great extent concerned with administrative matters, such as memberships, conventions, insurance for Christian workers, etc. But there is also material that reflects NAE's efforts to place the concerns of conservative Protestants before the government and the general public on the social and political issues of the day.

Christian education, the status of the family, religious liberty, and public morality, support for home and foreign Christian missions were continuing concerns. For example, folder 43-6 contains a notebook of policy statements and resolutions (the resolutions are from the 1950s and 1960s, the policy statements from the 1950s to the 1980s). The resolutions, which were usually passed at the annual conventions, are expressions of the Association's position on many issues.

The following is only a sample of topics covered in brief resolutions: abortion, alcohol advertising, the Bricker amendment, federal aid to education, Christian family life, civil rights, communism, drugs and alcohol, ecology, the equal rights amendment, the new morality, freedom of the airwaves, gambling, homosexuality, law & order, military chaplains, motion picture ratings, nuclear holocaust, persecution of Protestants in Latin America, pornography, prayer in national life, racial minorities, recognition of China and Cuba, religious freedom around the world, Roman Catholicism and the American presidency (in relation to the 1960 election), the school prayer amendment, Sunday observance, Taiwan, the Vietnam war, and world evangelism. Other copies of resolutions can be found in many of the annual convention folders (folders 36-1 through 36-6).

Exceptional items: Folder 43-3 contains fifteen years of minutes and reports from the general sessions of the NAE, the business meetings held of the entire membership during the annual conventions. Stephen Olford for a time served a minister-at-large of the NAE. Some reports of his Encounter Ministries can be found in folder 40-6. The folder for the 1983 annual convention (folder 36-5) contains posters, handbills and other materials to encourage church members to think about stewardship. Interesting evaluations of the NAE and its executive director by the membership can be found in folder 39-6.


Sub-series: National Religious Broadcasters (NRB)

Arrangement: Alphabetical by folder title. This series contains much material that was unfoldered, but which seemed to have been sent to Zimmerman in his capacity as a member of the board of directors. Therefore it was separated by years and put in folders labeled "Board of Directors."

Date Range: 1955-1990

Volume: 4.8 cubic feet; Boxes: 44-55

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Minutes of meetings, reports, budgets, financial statements, correspondence, speeches

Correspondents: Ben Armstrong, Eugene Bertermann, E. Brandt Gustavson, Jerry Rose Subjects: Religious radio and television broadcasting, the history of National Religious Broadcasters, ethical standards in religious broadcasting, the use of broadcast madia for evangelism and Christian nurture, the growing influence of conservative Protestants in American politics in the last third of the twentieth century, the business and practice of broadcasting in late twentieth century America, the television evangelism scandals of the late 1980s.

Notes: Zimmerman was an influential member of the NRB practically from its founding, serving as president from 1954-1956 and continuously on its board of directors, board of administration, and executive committee. He also was an important member of other groups, such as the Ethics Committee, the Evangelicals for Financial Integrity Commission (EFICOM), and the task force in charge of determining whether the headquarters should move to Washington D.C. (folder 54-3).

The documents in this series include a very few items from his early days with the NRB, but most are from the late 1970s to 1990. The majority of the files in this section contain materials from either the board of directors (folders 44-23 through 46-7, 46-9) or executive committee meetings (folders 46-9, 50-3 through 54-1).

They contain minutes, budgets, audits, reports on convention planning, material on the health benefits plan the NRB established for its members, press releases and press coverage of NRB events, especially the annual convention and information on planned actions of current concern. Several files also document Zimmerman's involvement with the Ethics committee and the EFICOM (folders 46-8, 48-1 through 50-2).

These groups were especially concerned to develop published standards, especially on finances, that would maintain or reestablish public confidence in religious broadcasters and many of the documents deal with what should be acceptable practice. There is also some investigation of individual cases, such as allegations against Jimmy Swaggert (folder 49-10) and the Trinity Broadcasting Network (folder 50-1,2). (Because these folders involve minutes of frank and confidential discussions between commission members, the files were closed by the Archives staff for fifty years.)

There is also material on what should be the EFICOM's relationship with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), another group to which Zimmerman belonged (see series III). Several folders contain programs, reports, planning documents and other material related to the NRB's annual conventions (folders 44-1 through 44-22). Folder 44-3 contains several papers delivered on different aspects of Christian broadcasting at the 1964 meeting, including those by Ralph Freed, B. Charles Hostetter, Howard O. Jones, Rufus Jones, and G. Aiken Taylor.

Folder 44-6 contains papers by Eugene Bertermann, David Augsberger, John McCombe and others at the 1967 annual convention. There are similar papers from other annual conventions, which provide snapshots of religious broadcasting at particular moments in time. Many folders contain the program of a particular convention, other have news stories or resolutions or other material associated in one way or another with the meeting.

Some folders contain speeches made to the convention by Presidents Ford (folder 44-10) and Reagan (folder 44-18). See also folder 33-7 in series V containing the agenda and invitation list from a briefing held at the Reagan White House for religious leaders.

Exceptional items: Folder 54-4 contains minutes of a meeting of the board of International Christian Broadcasters, a group (to which Zimmerman also belonged) with overlapping interest with the NRB.

Folder 55-2 contains a set of speeches on Militant Liberty given at a 1955 joint meeting of the NRB and International Christian Leadership (ICL). The talks deal with greater Christian commitment to deal with the threat posed to Western society by both Communism and a spiritual malaise marked by a decline in certainty. Among the speakers were D. Elton Trueblood, Charles Malik, Frank Clement, Walter H. Judd, Andrew Gih, Richard Halverson, Myron Boyd, and John C. Broger.

Folder 55-4 contains papers sent out by President Reagan to explain his opposition to the 1987 Civil Rights Restoration Act (Grove City), partly on the grounds that it was a threat to religious liberty.


Sub-series: Year of the Bible Foundation

Arrangement: Alphabetical by title, titles supplied by the archivist

Date Range: 1982-1985 Volume: .5 cubic feet; Boxes: 56

Geographic Coverage: United States

Type of Documents: Correspondence, minutes, articles, legal papers, pamphlets

Correspondents: Bill Bright, Glenn A. Jones

Subjects: The Bible in American society, the relation between church and state in the United States, Protestant Evangelicalism, interdenominational cooperation

Notes: The Year of the Bible grew out of the efforts of Bill Bright (founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ) to focus greater attention on the Bible in American society. The Year of the Bible committee included Protestant, Catholics and Jews and was able to persuade President Ronald Reagan to proclaim 1983 the Year of the Bible.

The committee also was involved in encouraging various denominations and religious organizations to promote Bible study during the year and in publishing resources for Bible study. Zimmerman served as vice chairman of the committee.

This series consists of correspondence between Zimmerman and Bright and Glenn Jones (executive director of the committee), as well as minutes of meetings, reports on activities related to the Year of the Bible, and numerous publications of the committee. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Reagan because it considered his proclamation a violation of the separation of church and state. Folder 56-3 contains documents related to the ACLU's suit. Folder 56-6 contains a detailed directory of resources for using the Bible available in the United States.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Harriet E. Zimmerman in April 1991. Numerous Lausanne Committee publications from the accession were given to the Evangelism and Missions Collection, Buswell Library, Wheaton College.

Accession 91-34

July 15, 2003

Bob Shuster

J. Arney

J. Dennison

Collection 584 Papers of Thomas F. Zimmerman
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