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Chicago Evangelistic Campaign

Halvard J. Thomsen

By HALVARD J. THOMSEN, Pastor, Humboldt Park Church, Chicago, Illinois

 

In Chicago the Illinois Conference has undertaken a unique evangelistic program. Opening on January 16 in the Harris theater, in the Loop, this sixteen-week Sunday-evening campaign is staffed by the conference president Theodore Carcich as speaker, the conference treasurer, two departmental secre­taries, the Book and Bible House manager and his assistant, three conference office stenog­raphers, seven Chicago pastors, three Bible instructors, three interns, and sixty-six lay workers. A further unique feature is the meager 88,000 budget, which any reader of THE MINISTRY will agree is small for a large city campaign.

The program is being blessed with hundreds of interests, and under the grace and guidance of God many conversions are witnessed. Per­haps the greatest single human factor contribut­ing to the success of these meetings is the plan of organization. Because every worker has a definite task, there are harmony and unity. Recognizing the value of this organization, the editor of THE MINISTRY has asked for a description.

If you will refer to the chart, the explanation will be clear. The top-level group is the Plan­ning Committee, composed of Elder Carcich, Manager DeWitt S. Osgood, and the heads of the other committees. At the first meeting of this large committee the budget allotments were set, and the order of presentation of topics was finalized. This meeting cleared the way for each subcommittee to do its planning.

A problem which arose at this point was whether or not to announce our denomination. It was finally settled by saying nothing about it in our advertising, but announcing it openly in the theater on the first night. No trouble has developed on this point.

Two meetings are held each Sunday evening. The first is well attended by from 650 to goo people. The theater seats 1,084 without the use of the box seats. Although afternoon meetings were attempted, it was soon evident that we could not get an audience three times in one day. With this by way of introduction, a brief explanation of the function of each committee follows.

MANAGERS.—They oversee the whole cam­paign, having charge of the platform arrangement, and asking various ministers to assist by prayer from time to time. There are three American flags on the stage, and two large flower bouquets. Though simple, the platform is dignified and attractive.

FINANCE.—Obviously this group handles the funds. Rent is $225 nightly. After nine meetings collections and donations totaled $2,562.27, so this more than cared for the theater rent.

USHERING.—This includes supervising the twenty-eight ushers who seat the people, selling books, distributing and collecting free-literature request slips, collecting the offering, and pick­ing up the songbooks after the service. There are two ushers for every eighty seats, so they collect the offering in two minutes or less. Churches provide ushers in proportion to mem­bership. This committee was allotted one hun­dred dollars with which to purchase neckties for the men, offering plates, pencils, and paper.

Music.—The special music is supplied largely by talent from the participating churches, but Broadview Academy, Hinsdale Sanitarium, and Emmanuel Missionary Col­lege have also sent musicians. Each evening we have three vocal numbers, and an instru­mental number for the offertory.

ADVERTISING.—This group probably has the greatest responsibility of any, planning the en­tire advertising campaign—titles, media, and how to spend its budget. Six thousand dollars was allowed for advertising. This sum is being spent approximately as follows: space in three newspapers on Saturdays, $2,900; handbills, $850; radio spot announcements, $884; Rapid Transit System station platform posters, $419. The balance of the advertising budget is taken up in miscellaneous items as advertising census cards, admission tickets, and publicity fees.

The decision to concentrate on the newspaper space was based on results from the census taken at the first meeting. The newspaper seemed to have the greatest pulling power of any medium. Handbills are not distributed sys­tematically, because ten thousand do not go far among the seven churches involved. Those at­tending the meetings are handed an announce­ment for next week as they leave.

LAYMEN.—If the advertising committee is the most important, the laymen's committee is certainly next. C. R. French, home missionary secretary, heads this group, ably assisted by Miss Jody Ketterman, Bible instructor. Two receptionists stand at each entrance to greet the people and hand them songbooks and pro­grams. These ladies are the leading lay Bible instructors. They sort the names by districts, handing them to the unit leader in each church. The unit leader is responsible for the organiza­tion in his church for distributing the literature. In most churches the missionary leader is the unit leader.

The first time a name is received, literature is mailed to that person. Thereafter it is deliv­ered personally half the time and mailed alter­nately. As interests grow, the plan is to give the names to the pastor for his personal atten­tion. This program keeps the busy pastors active in some cases three or four days a week. The literature sent out is a three-page "Ser­mon Digest," a Present Truth on the subject, and a devotional tract.

LITERATURE.—This committee is responsible for the book display, for providing the Crisis books used in the book sale, and for the free literature distributed by the laymen. The book sale takes place from seven-forty to seven-forty-five in the evening, and the title chosen is usually on the topic of the previous week's meeting.

All the men have worked together in har­mony. A great blessing is observed in the churches, and the laymen feel that this is the best thing ever to happen in Chicago. We be­lieve God has truly blessed us. Our prayer is that God will give us a vision of the harvest field.

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