History of Revivalism in Boston

History of Revivalism in Boston

Resources for the urban pastor and community leader published by Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston Emmanuel Research Review reprint Issue No. 24 — January/February 2007

Resources for the urban pastor and community leader published by Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston

Emmanuel Research Review reprint
Issue No. 24 — January/February 2007

by Rudy Mitchell, Senior Researcher, Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston

Read the full version online here.

Executive Summary

“Revivalism,” according to the Dictionary of Christianity in America, “is the movement that promotes periodic spiritual intensity in church life, during which the unconverted come to Christ and the converted are shaken out of their spiritual lethargy.” David W. Bebbington, professor of history at the University of Stirling in Scotland and a distinguished visiting professor of history at Baylor University, describes revivalism as a strand of evangelicalism, a form of activism (which he identifies as one of evangelicalism’s four key characteristics), where a movement produces conversions “not in ones and twos but en masse.”

Dwight L. Moody revival meeting in Boston

Dwight L. Moody revival meeting in Boston

In this 2007 study, EGC’s Senior Researcher Rudy Mitchell traces Boston’s key evangelistic revival movements from the First Great Awakening in Boston in 1740–1741 through the Billy Graham campaign in Boston, starting on New Year’s Eve in 1949. With 23,000 attending services on the Boston Common in 1740 to hear Whitefield (without the benefit of electronic amplification) to an estimated 75,000 gathered at the same spot in 1950 to hear the same Gospel preached by Rev. Billy Graham, the story of revivalism in Boston gives color and texture to the waves of revival.

Rudy introduces us to a few of the key players, remarkable crowds, recorded outcomes, while weaving in familiar faces and places, from Charles Finney, Dwight L. Moody and Billy Sunday to Harvard Yard, Park Street Church and the Boston Garden. We sense history coming alive as we read how God moved in remarkable ways through his gifted evangelists and preachers, and we gain a deeper appreciation for Boston’s vibrant Christian history.

“History of Revivalism in Boston” was first printed in the January/February 2007 issue of the Emmanuel Research Review, Issue 24. It was subsequently published in New England’s Book of Acts, a collection of reports on how God is growing the churches among many people groups and ethnic groups in Greater Boston and beyond.

Table of Contents (with key themes and names added)

Revivalism
First Great Awakening in Boston
George Whitefield
The Revivals of 1823-24, 1826-27
Second Great Awakening, growth of evangelicalism, church planting, Rev. Lyman Beecher
The Revival of 1841-1842
Rev. Edward N. Kirk, Charles Finney, Elder Jacob Knapp, resulting church growth
The Revival of 1857-58
“The Prayer Revival,” noontime businessmen’s prayer, daily prayer meetings by and for women
The Dwight L. Moody Revival Meetings in Boston
YMCA, Ira Sankey, A.J. Gordon, social justice, temperance, 1877-78
The 1916–1917 Billy Sunday Revival
celebrity status, campaign prayer events, mass rallies, businesswomen’s luncheon, 64,000 declarations of faith, 133 sermons delivered
The 1950 Billy Graham Revival
Harold J. Ockenga, Boston Garden, New England-wide follow-up rallies

Learn More

Read the full version of “History of Revivalism in Boston”

Contact Rudy Mitchell with questions, or to request a printed copy.

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