Vienna Evangelistic Campaign

PLANNING has been under way for several years for a great evangelistic campaign to be held in Vienna for the spring of the same year as the first General Conference session to be held in Europe. This campaign would feature special methods and advertising techniques and be under the leadership of an American evangelist. . .

-secretary-treasurer of the Austrian Union at the time this article was written

PLANNING has been under way for several years for a great evangelistic campaign to be held in Vienna for the spring of the same year as the first General Conference session to be held in Europe. This campaign would feature special methods and advertising techniques and be under the leadership of an American evangelist.

Actual preparations were begun in the spring of 1974. Eight pastors and almost 1,000 church members from the ten Adventist churches in Vienna gathered to ask God's blessings on this work. In the late autumn of 1974, church members began an intensive door-to-door visitation program around the Kongresshaus in the fifth city borough, where the meetings were to be conducted.

Although Elder C. D. Brooks, who was first scheduled to conduct the meetings, could not come to Vienna because of a TV evangelistic program, the General Conference sent Pastor J. M. Phipps, another black evangelist. On the occasion of his first visit in December, 1974, a workers' meeting was arranged. Here the titles, themes, and advertising approach for the campaign were discussed and agreed upon. We soon recognized that we were dealing with a very sincere and devout man in the person of Pastor Phipps and looked forward with pleasure to working with him.

We were impressed with the titles he had chosen, such as: "The Day That Money Will Be Thrown in the Streets of Vienna and No One Will Pick It Up." "The Man Who Returned From Hell With a Story to Tell." "The Devil's Vacation Will He Come to Vienna?" and "When Seven Women Take Hold of One Man." The series was advertised under the title J. M. Phipps Seminar for Dynamic Living.

To advertise the campaign, many thousands of leaflets and handbills were distributed, 745 large posters were placed on small billboards, 1,200 posters were used to advertise in the trams, trains, and buses, and 2,500 were placed in apartment houses. The Seminar was also advertised on the radio. About twenty literature evangelists participated each time in two literature-evangelist campaigns, each two weeks in length.

The assembly hall in the Kongresshaus, which seats approximately 900, was completely filled opening night, March 1, 1975. Approximately 250 non-Adventists were in attendance, many of them hearing the Bible preached for the first time ever.

Pastor H. Knott, president of the Swiss Union, who is an experienced evangelist, translated excellently for Pastor Phipps. After the first four weeks Brother Gerhard Pfandl, a young pastor in Vienna who had studied in England and Australia, replaced Pastor Knott in this responsibility.

Each week five meetings were held, each lasting about two hours. The program was as follows:

Welcome

Community singing

Theme song (every evening the same song) Prayer

Musical item (Choir or soloist. No instrumental items.) Bible quiz (Conducted with quiz cards by the translator. Five books were awarded as prizes to those with correct answers.)

Announcements (Given by Pastor Phipps himself. They were mainly invitations to attend the following meeting, the theme title of which was announced.)

Solo item (song)

Seminar

Closing remarks

Pastor Phipps brought with him a young black student, Wintley Phipps, who reached many hearts with his spirituals. Each evening at the close of the meeting a decision call was made. While slides with scenes from the life of Christ were shown, the soloist sang an appeal song, and the audience was invited to respond.

Adolf Dallapozza, a tenor from the Vienna State Opera and a faithful member of the Adventist Church, frequently sang to the praise and glory of God, as did the Adventist Choir of Vienna. Three weeks before the close of the meetings, Mrs. Phipps, wife of the evangelist, arrived in Vienna. She too assisted in the musical program.

After fifteen meetings the first Sabbath Seminar was conducted in the Kongresshaus, attended by 630 church members and approximately 120 nonmembers. The Sabbath Seminar was conducted much like the normal church service. Instead of a Sabbath school lesson, however, a certain topic such as "The Gift of Prophecy in the Last Church" or "God's Reasons for an Organized Church" was discussed.

During the seven weeks of the campaign thirty meetings and four Sabbath Seminars were conducted. The high lights were without doubt the two baptisms on the twelfth and nineteenth of April, at which thirty-nine souls were added to the church. Others, who through the evangelistic campaign came to know the Adventist Church for the first time, are now receiving Bible studies, and we hope and pray that they too will soon be baptized.


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-secretary-treasurer of the Austrian Union at the time this article was written

August 1975

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