With Billy Graham turning 95 a few days ago, the days of the great traveling "crusades" (which always seemed to me an unfortunate word to choose for evangelism) by the famous evangelists have pretty much come to an end.
Today -- an intriguing numerical date -- is a good day to remember those traveling evangelists because it was on this date in 1899 that Dwight L. Moody (depicted here), the Billy Graham of his age, began his last great campaign, and he did that right here in Kansas City.
Although I haven't had a chance to double-verify this, I believe the meetings were held in the old downtown (13th and Central) Convention Hall, as it was called, just a few months before fire destroyed it.
What was especially memorable about that campaign was that just a few days after it began Moody took ill -- so ill, in fact, that after he collapsed he was sent back home to Massachusetts and died a few weeks later.
Kansas City, it turns out, has hosted many traveling evangelists, including Billy Graham several times. And the famous Sinclair Lewis novel, Elmer Gantry, which satirized evangelists, was written after Lewis had done lots of research in Kansas City, often attending as many as three church services here on a Sunday.
In fact, I'd love to see a museum exhibit describing this aspect of Kansas City's religious history. Someone get on that, please.
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EQUAL RIGHTS FOR GAYS ON A FAST TRACK
Former Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who became the church's first openly gay bishop 10 years ago, says he's astounded by the progress the LGBT community has made since then. So am I. Delighted, but astounded. I never thought things would change this quickly.