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Collection 577 Papers of Vergil Gerber

Identifier: CN 577

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, manuals, newsletters, reports and other materials relating to the life and ministry of Vergil Gerber, a Conservative Baptist minister and missionary to Central and South America. The collection documents Gerber's work as a teacher, writer, and leader in church growth studies and Evangelical global missions, especially in Latin America.


  • Created: 1966-1984

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this material.

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: Vergil Glenn Gerber

Birth: February 6, 1916, in Fort Wayne, Indiana


Parents: Christopher Adolph and Anna Laura (Wonser) Gerber

Marital Status: Married to Dorothy Lois Bee, May 31, 1941

Children: Richard Lawrence (1943), Ruth, Judson, Jared, Janna

Ordination: Minister of the Conservative Baptist Association of America, 1942


1935 - Diploma, Fort Wayne Bible College

1938 - B.Mus, Taylor University

1946 - B.Div.,Northern Baptist Theological Seminary

1969 - M.Div, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary

1972 - D.D. Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary


1943-44 - Assistant pastor, Tremont Temple, Boston, Massachusetts

1944-48 - Pastor, First Baptist Church, Perry, New York

1949-54 - Conservative Baptist missionary to Ecuador and Argentina

1955-65 - Conservative Baptist missionary to Costa Rica and Mexico

1955-? - First executive director of LEAL (English title, Evangelical Literature for Latin America). Among other publications, he started Verbo, a evangelistic magazine used in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries

1966 - Coordinator of the Congress on Church's Worldwide Mission, held in Wheaton, Illinois

1967-1969 - Missions Secretary, Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society

1967-? - Executive secretary of the Evangelical Committee on Latin America (ECLA), a joint committee of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (EFMA) and the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association

1969-1981 - Executive director of the Evangelical Missions Information Service

1981 - Retired

Other significant information:

Editor of Missions in Creative Tension: the Green Lake '71 compendium (1971); Discipling Through Theological Education by Extension : A Fresh Approach to Theological Education in the 1980s (1980)

Author of God's Way to Keep a Church Going and Growing (1973) (also called A Manual for Evangelism/Church Growth)

Recipient of the Epsilon Chi award from the Accrediting Association of Bible Institute and Bible Colleges


4.62 Cubic Feet (12 Boxes, Audio Tape, Photographs, Slides)

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

Series 1: Audio Tapes

Tape 1. (28 minutes). Soundtrack for two parts of a slide/tape program on Evangelism and Church Growth. The slides for parts I and II are slides S1-S107 in this collection. The soundtrack for Part I, the "Biblical Bedrock for Church Growth" is on side A and is 13 minutes long. Part II, on methods for evaluating church growth, is on side B and is incomplete, starting at the fifth slide (T55). This soundtrack is 15 minutes long. A beep is the signal to move on to the next slide. Cassette tape, 2 sides. Undated


Series 2: Photographs

Photographs are arranged topically into the following photo files:

CHURCH GROWTH-STUDY AND TEACHING. Snapshots of scenes at the workshops on evangelism and church growth which Vergil Gerber organized and or led in many countries around the world. Included are scenes from the workshops held in Argentina, Bolivia, Burundi, Chile, Haiti, India, Korea, Nigeria, the Philippines, Rhodesia, Taiwan, Tanzania, and Thailand. The pictures show the groups at the different seminars studying together, attending classes and in informal situations. Besides Gerber, there are also images of Paul Kiichi Ariga, Byang Kato, Donald McGavran, and Victor Musa. 1972-1976. 68 b&w, 31 color.

CONGRESS ON THE CHURCH'S WORLDWIDE MISSION. Pictures of speakers, scenes of the Congress, the delegates listening to presentations, book tables. Among those pictured are Vergil Gerber, Wade Coggins, and Ralph Winter. 1966. 87 b&w.

CONGRESS ON THE CHURCH'S WORLD WIDE MISSION. (Oversize). Group shot of all the attendees to the Congress, standing in front of Centennial Gymnasium on the campus of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. April 1966. 1 b&w.

EVANGELICAL MISSION INFORMATION SERVICE. Snapshots of the staff of EMIS and layouts of their publications. There are many pictures of Vergil Gerber and David Hofer. Ca. 1979. 15 b&w, 13 color.

GERBER, VERGIL G. Variety of portrait photos and informal shots by himself and with his family. Also a picture of Gerber with Ralph Winter, Donald McGavran, and C. Peter Wagner on the campus of Fuller Seminary in Pasadena California. Pictures of Gerber teaching church growth seminars and pictures of Gerber with Jack Frizen, Ben Armstrong and Waldron Scott. Undated. 29 b&w, 3 color.

FORD, LEIGHTON. 1 b&w. Ford speaking at the Consultation on World Evangelization in Thailand in 1980.

MCGAVRAN, DONALD M. Candid shots of McGavran participating in church growth workshops in Taiwan and elsewhere. Ca. 1970s. 4 b&w.

PALAU, LUIS. Pictures of Palau leading evangelistic campaigns in Mexico and Argentina, including a picture of Palau at the opening of Eurofest, with Werner Burklin, Billy Graham, and Festo Kivengere. 1969-1977. 21 b&w.

SCOTT, WALDRON. Portrait photos of Waldron Scott. Undated. 2 b&w.


Series 3: Slides

All of the slides are in color, unless otherwise noted.

S1-S50. Evangelism and Church Growth. Part I: "Biblical Bedrock for Church Growth" Part of a slide/ tape presentation intended to train pastors and church leaders in how to evaluate their evangelism programs and effective grow and multiply churches. This part describes how the principles of church growth are illustrated in the New Testament. This is a different program from that of slides S51-S107. The Archives does not have a script this program. Tape T1 includes the audio soundtrack. Produced by Mission and Services of the Mennonite Brethren Conference. Undated. 50 color slides.

S51-S107. Evangelism and Church Growth. Part II: Part of a slide/ tape presentation intended to train pastors and church leaders in how to evaluate their evangelism programs and effective grow and multiply churches. There is a script for the in folder 10-11. Tape T1 includes the audio soundtrack. Produced by Mission and Services of the Mennonite Brethren Conference. Undated. 57 color slides.


Series 4 : Papers

Arrangement: Alphabetical within subseries

Date Range: 1966-1984

Volume: 4.6 cubic feet

Boxes: 1-12

Geographic coverage: Worldwide, special emphasis on United States and Latin America

Type of documents: Correspondence, manuals, reports, newsletters, conference papers

Subjects: Church growth, Evangelical Protestant missions


Subseries 1: Individual church growth seminars

Arrangement: Alphabetical by the name of the country

Date Range: 1966-1984

Volume: 2.6 cubic feet B

Boxes: 1-7

Geographic coverage: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameron, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Great Britain, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Liberia, Malaysia, Malawi, Mali, Madagascar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad, Upper Volta, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zaire, Zambia Type of documents: Correspondence, course materials, statistics, reports Correspondents: Several leading Evangelical church leaders and missionaries from most countries where the workshops were held.

Subjects: Church growth and evangelism in most parts of the world

Notes: These files contain materials about the planning, holding and evaluations of the individual evangelism/church growth workshops that Gerber led in many countries around the world. Usually the folder contains correspondence with the local sponsors, notes or handouts from the actual meetings, and further correspondence about impact of the meetings and follow-up. Oftentimes the files also contain material about the condition of Evangelical Protestant churches in the country.

Exceptional items: Folders 1-1 through 1-3 contain information about workshops held in Argentina and about Luis Palau evangelistic campaigns held in Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil in conjunction with workshops. See also folder 9-25.

Folders 5-1, 5-2 and 7-3 are for seminars held in the United States.

Folder 4-10 contains material about a workshop held during the 1974 Lausanne Congress.


Subseries 2: General Correspondence Files

Arrangement: Alphabetical

Date Range: 1966-1984

Volume: 1.2 cubic feet

Boxes: 7-10

Geographic Coverage: United States, Africa, Latin America, Asia

Type of Documents: Correspondence, manuscripts, interview transcripts

Correspondents: Tokunboh Adeyemo, Irland Pereira De Azevedo, Roger Greenway, Lloyd Kwast, Terry Hulburt, Kassoum Keita , David Liao, Donald McGavran, John Marrs, Juan Carlos Miranda, James Montgomery, Ed Murphy, Victor A. Musa, Luis Palau, Pablo Perez, Fred Polding, Daniel Sanchez, Waldron Scott, Edgardo Silvoso, Gerald Swank, Tite Tienou, Robert Vajko, Ruperto Velez, Wayne Weld.

Subjects: Church growth in different parts of the world, the Association of Evangelicals of Africa and Madagascar, the Evangelical Committee on Latin America.

Notes: Most of the material in the subseries is concerned with the planning and evaluation of the evangelism and church growth seminars that Gerber led. There is correspondence with many of the people who participated with Gerber in teaching the seminars and/or were involved in translating the course materials in a variety if languages, including Arabic, French, German, Greek, Hausa, Japanese, Italian, Kikongo, Kirundi, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portugese, Quencha (Quichua), Sinhalese, Spanish, Temne, Thai, Urdu, and Yurba. Folders 8-8 to 9-10 include information on these translations.

There is some information as well on Gerber's other mission activities and efforts at cooperation between Evangelical missions.

Exceptional items: Folder contains notes, letters, magazine clippings and other materials relating to specific church growth case studies in different parts of the world. Folder 9-1 contains reports on the publishing activities of the ECLA, which eventually resulted in the formation of the EMIS. Folder 9-2 contains four years of the prayer letter Gerber sent to supporters, describing his activities.

Folder 9-5 contains extensive transcripts of interviews of Gerber by James Montgomery (as well as other documents) in which he describes the impact church growth workshops he was leading. The interviews describe in detail the seminars held in various Latin American, African and Asian countries, the condition of the Christian churches in those countries and some of the prominent personalities. More formal reports on workshop attendance and results are in folder 10-10.

Folder 9-25 contains the manuscript of Edgardo Silvoso's book, Harvest Evangelism, which suggests a method of combining mass evangelism with discipleship training. The book was partly based on the experience of the Luis Palau campaigns in Rosario, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Folders 10-7 to 10-9 contain correspondence and other documents about the funding and personnel of the seminars.


Subseries 3: Conferences and Reports

Arrangement: Alphabetical

Date Range: 1967-1980

Volume: .8 cubic feet

Boxes: 10-12

Geographic Coverage: United States, Bolivia

Type of Documents: Annual reports, conference papers and programs, policy statements

Subjects: The Evangelical Missions and Information Service; Christian use of television and radio in Europe; the fiftieth anniversary of the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association; Evangelical missions in the 1970s, particularly in Latin America, China and the Muslim world; missions standards of financial accountability; the 1974 International Conference on World Evangelization; the relations between missions and churches in Bolivia, the theology of missions, contextualization, Evangelicals and community development, the church under totalitarian governments; recruiting college students to be missionaries; the place of women in missions; the World Evangelical Fellowship.

Notes: The section includes papers and other reports from conference and meetings of various Evangelical groups attended by Gerber, including the European Evangelical Communication Conference, the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association, the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne), InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Student Missionary Convention (Urbana), Puente (Primera Consulta Bolivariana de Iglesias y Misiones); Trinity Evangelical Divinity School's Consultation on Theology and Missions; and the World Evangelical Fellowship General Assembly. There are papers on a wide range of topics by a many major Evangelical leaders.

Exceptional items: Folder 10-11 contains a script for a slide/tape presentation on evangelism and church growth. However, this script is different from the one used on T1 and slides S1-S107.

Folder 10-12 contains detailed annual reports on the work of the Evangelical Missions Information Service.

Folder 11-4 contains a draft of the IFMA's 1977 "Standard of Accounting and Financial Reporting for Mission Organizations."

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Archives by Vergil Gerber in October 1984. Duplicate materials were returned to him and various editions of The World Directory of Theological Education were passed on to the Evangelism & Missions Collection of Buswell Library, as were issues of the periodicals Africa Pulse, Asia Pulse, Chinese World Pulse, Emissary, Europe Pulse, Latin America Pulse, Missionary News Service, Muslin World Pulse,Papel y Tinta, Pulse: Special Report, Verbo.

Accession: 85-124

October 28, 2002

Robert Shuster

J. Aernie

Collection 577 Papers of Vergil Gerber
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