The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist” Chapter 1

Introduction

Our teacher told us we needed to practice an air raid drill at school. So when our air raid siren went off, our fourth grade classroom would turn into a drill center. Us students would get out of our desk chairs and squat down with hands clasped behind our necks. This was supposed to prepare us for an H-bomb attack by Russia or China.

At home my mom stayed busy trying to buy or sell real estate – which was usually the house we lived in. That’s why our family moved forty some times before I got out of high school. Homes were selling like hotcakes in this post-World War II world. And mom knew how to capitalize on this.

My dad was a part-time preacher, usually at small Bible churches in southern Kansas. He usually had a full-time job, whether it was as a carpenter, or house painter, or machinist at Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita.

That’s the world I remember when evangelist Jack Shuler held a Crusade for Christ campaign in Wichita, Kansas on January 3-24, 1954. So far he had had lots of success.

It was a time when evangelistic meetings proliferated. In fact evangelistic preaching had been spreading since the early 1940s. You could blame it on the times, especially the post-war days, if you wanted to. The threat of nuclear destruction made many nervous about the future. And the prosperity without purpose left some people with an empty feeling. This may have had something to do with the rise in popularity of traveling evangelists.

There was a third ingredient that helped make evangelists popular – a rising problem with what professionals called “juvenile delinquency”. A number of teens were forming street gangs and roaming the streets – something new then. The 1955 movie Rebel without a Cause starring James Dean reflected this problem. Because of these problems, some conservative Christians thought something needed to be done, and fast.

One man, a young church pastor, thought up something new for these times – what he called – Youth for Christ International. His name was Torrey Johnson.[1] The organization, YFCI, quickly increased the effectiveness of evangelism in the United States. Though important precursors such as Percy Crawford and Jack Wyrtzen did their part in evangelizing young people, YFCI headed by Johnson really got the ball rolling as the numbers of young people attracted to it mushroomed.

By the mid-40s more than a dozen traveling evangelists had become popular by crisscrossing the country with their crusades or campaigns. Most were in some way connected with Youth for Christ International. Torrey Johnson probably had a better handle on this new phenomenon than anyone else. He hired young evangelist Billy Graham to be YFCI’s first traveling evangelist. But there were other just as popular evangelists as Graham then.

Many years later, Johnson was asked to rate the top evangelists in these early years from his first-hand knowledge. Though he picked Graham to represent YFCI for many reasons, he explained it wasn’t simply because of his speaking ability. He actually rated him third behind Shuler and Templeton on that account.

On February 13, 1984, Robert Shuster interviewed Torrey Johnson. Here’s some of what Johnson said:

“In connection with Youth for Christ, we probably had three most eloquent men. One was Jack Shuler of Los Angeles, the son of Robert Shuler… He was a dramatic preacher. Charles Templeton was eloquent in a different way. I think those were the two best speakers we had in the movement.

“Now Jack Shuler was not in the movement, but alongside of [it], and we were the vehicle for many of his campaigns. Charles Templeton was in the movement. They were the two outstanding preachers we had…

“I didn’t know Jack all that well. Jack was a student at Bob Jones University… His father and Bob Jones, Sr., were both Methodists and good friends. … and I know that his father had to intercede for Jack at times because Jack was very strong-willed and strong-headed. ..

ShulerJack w_ Bob_2

“He [Jack] was dramatic. He had all the qualities of being an actor. In fact, I think that Hollywood was very much interested in him, and he may even have done some things for Hollywood… They could have made of him what they call a star: dramatic, forceful, young, handsome, attractive, warm-hearted, eloquent, a great preacher, and a good promoter…

“He had certain devices by which to attract crowds of people… I think he had one sermon entitled ‘The Greatest Preacher that Ever Lived.’… People then thought he was referring to Billy Graham. So they would come on the second night… Actually, he talked about the Holy Spirit…

“I remember he’d bring his father to his meeting who was well-known… So he’d announce that tomorrow night I’m going to have my father, and I’m going to have my grandfather, and I think his grandfather was maybe in his nineties already.”

When asked about Shuler’s use of acting, Johnson said, “I can think of Simeon that bore the cross of Christ. He [Jack] would walk across the stage imitating how he thought Simeon was. When Christ seemed to falter under the load of the cross, Simeon, this man who was supposedly was a black man, came and took that cross and picked up that cross from the shoulders of our Lord and bore that cross.

“[It was] very dramatic and very beautiful… He could also dramatize Pilate when Pilate washed his hands in a basin of water and said, ‘I am free from the blood of this man.’ And he would wash his hands in that fashion, and you just felt like you were seeing Pilate right there before your own eyes.”

Asked about Shuler’s relationship to Youth for Christ, Johnson said, “He was not really in Youth for Christ, but was kind of parallel with it.” Johnson explained what he meant.

“Most evangelists, educators, and businessmen and women were our friends and they were sympathetic and supportive for our cause… They saw Youth for Christ as a vehicle to be a blessing in what they were doing. Jack Shuler was one of those… He supported us. He preached at Winona Lake at our big conferences and so on.

“When he would preach… at Winona Lake, someone from some city would hear him and say, ‘Gee, we ought to have him for a campaign.’ Then the Youth for Christ people in that city who had connections with all of the Evangelical forces of the city… would organize those people behind the campaign, and Youth for Christ became the catalyst to tie together all these elements for the campaign…”[2]

 

[1] Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 161-176; Mel Larson. Young Man on Fire (Chicago: Youth Publications, 1945, 73-114; John Pollock, Crusades (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Special Billy Graham Crusade Edition, World Wide Pulications), 1969, 34-40; James Hefley, God goes to High School (Waco, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 1970), 19-27.

[2] Collection 285, T4. Interview of Torrey Maynard Johnson by Robert Shuster, February 13, 1984. http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/trans/285t06.htm

 

 

The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist” Chapter 2

“Last time I checked we were”

Robert Pierce Shuler surprised no one when he became a preacher. His father, John William Wesley Shuler, was a Methodist preacher, as was his grandfather, Philip Lofton Shuler.[1] Robert was born to John William Wesley and Rosa Elvira (Cornett) Shuler on August 4, 1880, at Comers Rock which was on top of Iron Mountain in southwest Virginia. (It is 125 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina where Billy Graham was born the same year as Jack). Robert spent the first 12 years of his life there. He remembered his Christian conversion taking place at the age of nine.[2]

The family moved a number of times. After graduating from Emory and Henry College in Virginia, J.W.W. along with Rosa Elvira and their children (Robert was then 12), moved to Bluff City, Tennessee. Robert remembered this move.

“My father’s first pastorate as a Methodist circuit rider was the Bluff City Circuit in east Tennessee,” he said.[3]

J.W.W. was responsible for five churches in the Holston Methodist Conference there. The family remained there three years before moving to Russell County, Virginia in 1895. Three weeks after Robert’s 16th birthday, on August 25, 1896, his mother died from appendicitis. No doctor lived in the area and by the time J.W.W. could get one, it was too late. Robert became the head of the house for the time being.

Robert (Bob) was licensed to preach a year after his mother died. He jumped at every opportunity. In 1898 he enrolled at Emory and Henry College and continued school while preaching at various Methodist churches. He graduated from Emory in 1903 and was ordained the same year.

In April 1905 Bob Shuler held revival meetings at Austin Springs, Tennessee, where he met Nelle Reeves, whose father persuaded her to help in the revival. She played the organ and led the singing for the meetings. On October 4th Bob and Nelle were married.

The newlywed Shulers started their life together in Bristol, Tennessee where Bob preached under the auspices of the Methodist Conference there. For the next 15 years, Bob continued preaching for the Methodist Conference, often becoming the center of controversy which would lead to his becoming widely known as “Fighting Bob” Shuler. His last four years as a “circuit rider” were spent in Paris, Texas.

By the time they left Texas, the Shulers had five children, William, 10, Dorothy, 7, Robert, Jr., 4, Jack, 2 (born Jack Cornett, July 12, 1918), and Nelle, an infant. In October 1920 “Fighting Bob” moved his family to California to become the pastor of Trinity Methodist church there.

The Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1920, reported the move.

“After twenty-three years [of] service in the ministry of the Methodist church,” it said, “four of which have been recently spent in Paris, Tex., Rev. R.P. Shuler, known throughout Texas as “Fighting Bob” Shuler because of his evangelistic fervor and activity in social and political matters of the Lone Star State has arrived in Los Angeles, and will occupy the pulpit in his new pastorate at Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church tomorrow.”

Bob and Nelle had two more sons after moving to California: Edward H., born in 1923, and Phillip Ross, born December 29, 1924. “Fighting Bob” entered his new pastorate with enthusiasm and a large family, which kept Nelle with her hands full. With two older brothers, two younger brothers, one older sister and one younger sister, Jack was the middle sibling among the seven.

Jack grew up surrounded by media attention. Trinity Methodist Church in Los Angeles was the most popular church in the area (not counting Angelus Temple which was started by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1923). Later that year (1923) when Jack was five, his dad preached a series of sermons against “McPhersonism”.[4] When Jack was eight, Sister McPherson continued to make headlines with her California disappearance and reappearance in Douglas, Arizona and with her controversial ministry at Angelus Temple.

ShulerJack w_ family

When Jack was 12, the Federal Radio Commission charged his dad with violating radio laws on his KGEF radio station.[5] Bob was judged guilty of some of the charges and was then sentenced to 20 days in jail. He served 15 of them.[6] When Jack was 13, Sister Aimee eloped to Yuma, Arizona and married David Hutton. When Jack was 14, his dad ran as the Prohibition candidate for the U.S. Senate and received more than half a million votes.[7]

When Jack was 15, his dad considered running for California governor.[8] No doubt about it: When “Fighting Bob” Shuler spoke, people listened. When he wrote, people read it. His periodical publication, Bob Shuler’s Magazine, clearly bolstered his fame as the pastor of the popular Trinity Methodist Church.

In the Spotlight

So Jack grew up surrounded by the media in an area that had become a hotbed of religious newsmakers. His father perpetually attracted attention and created continuing publicity. This publicity became a way of life. With his parents being public figures, Jack became accustomed to the media around him and his brothers and sisters. Everyone reacts differently to such a situation. The fact that Jack was a preacher’s kid only added to the pressure. “Preacher’s kids” have been known to rebel against their upbringing. And Jack lived up to that. Billy Graham’s son also would one day go through that.

Jack described himself as the “black sheep” of the family.[9] His younger brother, Phil, described him as the “smart acre” (smart-aleck? wiseacre?) of the family. Phil remembered one time when they were kids and some thugs drove up to them while they were walking home in El Monte. (Such thugs bombed the Trinity Methodist church twice).[10] While in their car they asked the kids, “Are you the Shuler boys?” Jack quickly answered, “The last time I checked we were.[11]” The kids were lucky to make it home.

Jack’s sometimes reckless and impulsive behavior also showed up in his teens. By that time he was determined never to become a preacher like his father and their family history. He had become a “rebel without a cause” except for one. He developed a strong desire to become an actor. He pictured his name in lights and signing autographs as a movie star.

He joined the Poet Theater in Los Angeles to go about reaching that goal.[12]  By all accounts he was good at it. And he did have an additional asset. He was strikingly handsome. Besides that he was an exceptional athlete, playing football like both older brothers, Bill and Bob, Jr.

What he did as a “rebel” when 17 had repercussions long after the event. It reflected his passionate personality.

——

[1] Some sources (probably wrongly) say his name was John William Webster Shuler.

[2] Much of this information comes from Robert Pierce Shuler III’s book on his grandfather, called Fighting Bob Shuler of Los Angeles (Indianapolis, Indiana: Dog Ear Publishing, 2011). This book serves as an excellent source of information on the Shuler family.

[3] Bob Shuler, Some Dogs I Have Known (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1953), 15.

[4] Edith L. Blumhofer, Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody’s Sister (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 257-258.

[5] “Charges against Bob Shuler Filed” (Oxnard Daily Courier, July 22, 1930).

[6] “Court Upholds Punishment of Rev. Bob Shuler” Meriden Daily Journal, October 2, 1930. See also “Shuler Contempt Sentence Upheld” Milwaukee Journal, October 2, 1930.

[7] Milwaukee Journal, December 15, 1931.

[8] “Restore Prayers Instead of Beer, Says Bob Shuler” San Jose News, August 7, 1933.

[9] “Shuler ‘Acted’ Himself Into Ministry” Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 10, 1956.

[10] Gettysburg Times, October 27, 1930.

[11] My Life Story by Phil Shuler. n.d. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLLoWY-6Tuc.

[12] Jack Shuler, Shuler’s Short Sermons: Thirty-eight selected sermons by Jack Shuler (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1952). The dust cover says “Jack Shuler … received, as a promising young actor with the Poet Theater, opportunities to prepare himself for a movie career in Hollywood.”

 

The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist” Chapter 3

Strong Willed Youth

While in high school, young Jack Shuler became infatuated with a neighbor girl in El Monte named Metta Nadine Prather. Being passionate as most teens are, and outstandingly handsome, Jack made a decision he would soon regret. He saved up seven dollars, borrowed his father’s car, and drove to Metta’s place. They had decided to elope. The couple traveled to Yuma, Arizona on May 16, 1936, and married.[1] Seventeen-year-old Shuler would turn 18 in about six weeks (his birthday would be July 12).

The print media had a field day, especially since “Fighting Bob” Shuler had become one of William Randolph Hearst’s bitter enemies. When Metta filed for divorce in August, newspapers jumped on the news. Metta blamed Jack’s father for the trouble between her and Jack. “Fighting Bob” saw this as a disastrous wildfire that had to be put out. But he suffered the curse of fame when he entered the arena.

The Associated Press lede sentence in a Los Angeles article dated August 25, 1936, read:

“The Rev. Robert P. Shuler, militant radio preacher, forced his 18-year-old married son to return to the family home by 10 p.m. every night, the young Shuler’s wife, Mrs. Metta Nadine [Prather] Shuler charged in a divorce suit today.”[2]

Since Bob and Nelle had never approved of the marriage, they hoped it would end, but when Metta filed for divorce and asked for alimony, Jack (with his family behind him) challenged the divorce and sought an annulment. After a long court battle, the Superior Judge granted the annulment on January 7, 1937.[3]

The annulment, to “Fighting Bob,” was the lesser of two evils. Several years earlier he had preached against the Roman Catholic practice of using annulment to justify a Catholic ending a marriage without calling it a divorce. He even published a pamphlet in 1923 called, “The Roman Church and Marriage,” which noted Catholics’ “use of annulment to counter divorce.”[4] But he saw Jack’s behavior as an extreme case of his son’s immaturity that could damage the rest of Jack’s life.

After high school, Jack went to Whittier College near his home in El Monte, California. He took pre-law courses. His older brother, Bob, and younger sister, Nelle, also attended Whittier. Jack and Bob, both outstanding athletes in high school, played on Whittier’s football team. Jack played end. (That year, 1938, Richard Nixon was ending his days at Whittier College). Jack and Bob, Jr. were following in their older brother Bill’s footsteps.

Bill, a six-foot-four picture of muscular health, set the standard for the Shuler boys in sports. (Bill is third from right and Jack at left side of picture; Bob, Jr., second from right). After high school, he went to Cal Tech, where he starred in football (he was voted the outstanding football player in the Southern California Conference for 1930) and was rated “the best shot putter, discus thrower and javelin tosser in the same circuit…”[5]

Bill became most famous as a nationally known West Point football player. Games between Army and Notre Dame usually received national attention. In 1934, one of the games Bill played in was no exception. Sixteen-year-old Jack likely listened to the game on a radio. In the game, Bill played a leading role for Army.

Associated Press Sports Editor Alan Gould opened his story on the November 1934 event as follows:

New York, Nov. 24 – (AP)

Notre Dame’s aerial barrage broke down the Army’s otherwise stout-hearted defense today

and the burly, green-shirted Ramblers romped off with their third successive triumph over West Point, 12 to 6, in the most glittering setting of the Eastern football campaign.

A colorful crowd of 81,000 spectators, including the cadet corps and a host of metropolitan notables, saw the Fighting Irish break the deadlock with two long, sensational passes for a touchdown with the last five minutes of play. The biggest turnout of fans in the East this season jammed the huge triple-decked Yankee Stadium, overflowed into the aisles and furnished a brilliant, vociferous background for one of the nation’s foremost intersectional rivalries. Gate receipts of approximately $325,000 for the spectacle marked a new high this year on any gridiron…

In the first five minutes of the game, Notre Dame scored a lucky touchdown when an Army defensive player slipped, leaving a Notre Dame player wide open to run for the score. Gould went on to describe Bill Shuler’s role in what followed.

Army’s star left end, Bill Shuler, blocked Millner’s attempt to place-kick the extra point.

The Army’s counter-attack, featuring Jack Buckler’s effective passes to Shuler, produced the tying touchdown as an eventual consequence of the Irish being put in a big hole by Buckler’s 75-yard punt to Notre Dame’s one-foot line. Shuler crossed the goal-line on a 17-yard pass and run, in the first few moments of the second period to complete a 28-yard advance, but Captain Joe Stancook’s placement attempt for the seventh point was smothered by big Rocco Schiralli, sensational Rambler guard…

 

The game remained tied till the last few minutes when Notre Dame scored the winning touchdown. Bill Shuler had played a key role for Army by both blocking an extra point and running for Army’s only touchdown.[6]

Not long after that game, teammates selected him as next year’s team captain. A United Press story reported the event as follows:

West Point, N.Y., Dec. 3. – From third stringer in 1933 to Captain of the Army eleven in 1935 is the march made by William R. Shuler, son of Rev. Robert Shuler, Los Angeles evangelist.

The Army end was elected captain of next year’s team last night by his teammates en route to West Point from Philadelphia, scene of the loss last Saturday to Navy.

Shuler is from El Monte, Calif., and attended California Institute of Technology before entering West Point. He ranks among the first ten in his class and is a first sergeant. Shuler moved up from third string tackle of last season into first string end this season.

He clinched a regular berth with his fiery play against Illinois.

He succeeds fullback Joe Stancook as captain. Dwight Oliver Monteith of Centerville, Iowa, will be manager of the 1935 team.[7]

 

Bill Shuler went on to become a career soldier, rising to the rank of Brigadier General. His example would set a high bar for his brothers, though not as a minister.

Jack was not only interested in sports and theater. He still had girls on his mind when he became a student at Whittier College.

Jack’s younger sister, Nelle, also attending Whittier, had a number of girlfriends. Among them was Dorothy Dill. It wasn’t long before Jack and Dorothy were attracted to each other. The following year, when Jack and Dorothy were sophomores, history repeated itself, or at least rhymed. At the end of the school year, on May 30, 1938, Jack and Dorothy eloped to Las Vegas, Nevada. Twenty-year-old Jack would turn 21 in about six weeks (43 days).

This time Jack’s parents approved of the marriage. It didn’t hurt that Dorothy Dill went to Trinity Methodist Church in Los Angeles (though she was later described as a Presbyterian).[8]

Again the elopement hit the newspapers because of “Fighting Bob” Shuler’s fame. The Los Angeles Times ran an eye-catching headline,Young Shuler Elopes AgainWhittier College Student and Co-Ed Motor to Las Vegas.”[9]

The local paper, The Whittier [California] News, June 2, 1938, ran a matter-of-fact article. The Whittier story read as follows:

Miss Dorothy Dill, Jack C. Shuler Married

A marriage of much interest to their associates at Whittier College, as well as their many friends in this community and in Los Angeles, is that of Miss Dorothy Dill and Mr. Jack C. Shuler.

The two young people eloped to Las Vegas, Nevada, where they were married last Monday [May 30, 1938].

Miss Dill – or Mrs. Shuler, as she is now – is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.H. Dill of 429 North Washington Avenue, this city. She is a student at Whittier College and secretary of the Metaphonian Society.

Young Shuler is a member of the football team of the college, together with an older brother, Robert. A sister, Nelle Shuler, is also a student at Whittier College. All are sophomores. Jack Shuler is taking a pre-legal course and Mrs. Shuler is majoring in education.

The Rev. Robert P. Shuler, Los Angeles pastor, and Mrs. Shuler, while surprised at the elopement declared that they approved their son’s choice of a bride.

Miss [Nelle] Shuler has been a friend of her brother’s bride, while in school. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Shuler have not as yet announced their future plans.[10]

ShulerJackCornett2a

The same issue of the paper reported the final meeting of the year for the Metaphonian Society. Dorothy served chocolates.[11] Whittier College and the town welcomed the couple. A few days later the town paper reported a shower held for Dorothy. Among those attending were Jack’s sister, Nelle, and Dorothy’s mother, Mrs. R.H. Dill.[12]

Jack and Dorothy began their life at 401 McGirk Avenue in El Monte, property owned by Jack’s parents. Jack worked as a gas station attendant while attending Whittier College.[13]

 

[1] Robert Shuler, “Fighting Bob” Shuler of Los Angeles (Indianapolis, Indiana: Dog Ear Publishing, 2011), 341.

[2] Some of the newspapers covering this story included Modesto [California] Bee and News-Herald, August 26, 1936; Edwardsville [Illinois] Intelligencer, August 26, 1936; Jefferson City [MO] Post Tribune, August 26, 1936; Daily News Standard [Uniontown, Pennsylvania], August 26, 1936; Nevada State Journal [Reno], August 26, 1936; The Times [San Mateo, California], August 25, 1936; Ogden [Utah] Standard-Examiner, September 3, 1936.

[3] Los Angeles Times, January 8, 1937. See also Los Angeles Times, August 24, 1936 and January 7, 1937.

[4] Robert Shuler, “Fighting Bob” Shuler of Los Angeles (Indianapolis, Indiana: Dog Ear Publishing, 2011), 99.

[5] Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1931.

[6] Spartanburg Herald-Journal [South Carolina], Nov 25, 1934.

[7] “Name Bob Shuler’s Son Army Captain” Berkeley Daily Gazette, December 3, 1934.

[8] Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 28, 1956. Jack described Dorothy as “the sweetest Presbyterian this side of Heaven.”

[9] Los Angeles Times, June 2, 1938.

[10] “Miss Dorothy Dill, Jack C. Shuler Married” Whittier [California] News, June 2, 1938. 3.

[11] “Mrs. Shuler Given Post-Nuptial Courtesy” Whittier [California] News, June 2, 1938. 3.

[12] “Metaphonians Hold Final Meeting of Year” Whittier [California] News, June 6, 1938. 2.

[13] 1939 El Monte, California, City Directory. Jack’s older sister, Dorothy, was married to Willis Pitkin, who was an owner of the Pitkin Service Stations in El Monte. Jack may have gotten his job through his brother-in-law.

 

The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist” Chapter 4

“I could no longer resist.”

After the 1938-1939 school year in which he starred as an end on the Whittier football team, the L.A. Times ran an article anticipating his return.[1] But Jack changed his mind that summer. As much as he liked football, he still desired an acting career, though the original burning fire had become more of a smoldering ember.

“Fighting Bob” refused to give up on Jack’s salvation and a possible future ministry for him. Bob saw the first step toward that end when he persuaded Jack to switch schools.

“Fighting Bob” knew Jack was still interested in acting and he knew his Christian fundamentalist friend, Bob Jones, ran a Christian college that offered a dramatics course. Bob Jones College was then located in Cleveland, Tennessee. For Bob, it was a matter of letting Jack know about the possibilities. And Bob was not hesitant about doing that.

Jack took his father’s advice and left Whittier College after his sophomore year. This came as a surprise and disappointment to the college since they would be losing their “star end.”[2]

Jack and his new bride went to Tennessee where Jack became a Bob Jones student in 1939 with help from his father. Some of the courses he took there were Shakespeare, speech, and dramatics.[3] And it wasn’t long before “Fighting Bob” saw an answer to his prayer.

In 1940 Jack became a Christian.[4] In 1956 he talked about his conversion in his inimitable style. It happened at Bob Jones College in an unusual way.

“My dad wanted me to be a preacher, but I didn’t even want to go to church when I was a youth,” Jack said. “I was converted while doing a vesper play, ‘Barabbas,’ which portrays the robber who was released in place of Christ, who was crucified.

“Religion had sickened me prior to that, but the gospel came to me so forcefully as I acted the part of Barabbas that I could no longer resist.”[5]

After that, he began preaching at Trinity Methodist Church alongside his father. Jack’s younger brother, Phil, remembered Jack’s role in Phil’s call into the ministry shortly after Jack began preaching. Phil himself had become a Christian a year earlier. Jack gained much helpful experience from preaching fairly regularly at Trinity.

Sometime around the middle of 1940 Jack preached his first revival meeting at a tent his dad set up on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. Jack and his father preached alternate nights. “Fighting Bob” and Bob, Jr. attended all the services.

During one revival meeting when Jack was the evangelist, his youngest brother Phil, a football-player-sized teenager, disrupted Jack’s preaching in a good way. Many years later, Phil told what happened.

Phil said at that time he could not speak without stuttering. He stuttered so badly he carried a scratch pad to school each day to write down what he had to say. He was teased so much he became a bully, fighting other kids who made fun of him. (That wasn’t hard for him to do since he was over six foot tall and played football during his teens.) This special meeting was when Phil, then 15, felt called into the ministry. He explained what happened this way:

Shuler Phil
Phil Shuler

The second Tuesday night I was sitting at the back where the songbooks were. Jack let me pass out the songbooks for him and Jack got up to preach. I don’t know what he preached…  I don’t remember the text. I remember the theme – the call of the full-time service. And he made a statement in the very preliminary of that service…

He said, “If God Almighty calls you into full-time service and you’re willing to go, then it’s up to God to prepare you for that full-time service.”…

I was sitting at the very back. Jack hadn’t been speaking three minutes. And when Jack said that, the Lord just impressed me, “Phil, I want you to preach.” So I got up – right down that sawdust trail… Jack … couldn’t think of another word to say. He went, “duh – duh.”…

Dad said, “Now that you’ve lost your congregation, close your service.”

[Jack] said, “I haven’t even started.”

[Dad] said, “Well, you’ve lost your congregation. Close your service.”

So Jack said, “I’m going to go down and pray with Pete [Phil]. Dad, will you have the invitation?”

Dad said, “Well, alright. You go pray with Phil.”

Jack got down there on the other side of the altar. He grabbed me by the tie. He jerked me off my knees. Nose to nose, he said, “In the name of common sense, Pete, what got into you to do a fool thing like that?”

… I’m half [hanging]. I can’t talk. I’m fishing for my little pad of paper that I carried all the time… I finally get it out and I write, “I’m called to preach.”

Jack said, “Yeah, you’re called to preach but why did you have to come – wait a minute – called to preach?”

I said, “Yeah.”

He said, “Pray like a fiend and I’ll be right back.”

Jack got back and Dad was saying, “Now there should be others come forward – what was that, Jack? What?”

“Bob!”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Take the invitation.”

[Dad] said, “Jack, you talked him into it. You get down on your knees and talk him out of it. God never called a boy to preach that can’t answer the door and can’t answer the phone – has to write on the blackboard – scribbles his hand away.”…

All the way home – 23 miles – we rode in that old Buick and I was a rose between two thorns in the back seat – Dad’s on one side and Jack is on the other… and Bob [Jr.] was driving.

My father would say, “Now son, listen. It’s not a disgrace to be a farmer. God needs farmers. I’ll sign the farm over – lock, stock, and barrel – if you’ll just say you’ll be a farmer. And I’d write down, “But I’m called to preach.” And he’d study that for a while.

Jack would say, “Now Pete, you’re handy with a monkey wrench. God needs good mechanics that’ll tighten up nuts for Jesus.” And I said, “I can’t. I’m called to preach.” Jack would study that for a while.

Pretty soon I was out of paper. So I just sat there… [When we got home] I went upstairs straight as a die – opened the door – got inside – closed my door and threw myself on the bed and bawled my eyes out. It was the hardest experience I ever went through and I thank God for every second of it.

 

Bob’s wife, Nelle, found out what had happened. She scolded Bob for questioning Phil’s decision and comforted Phil, referring to Exodus 4:10 where Moses used the excuse he couldn’t speak well and God reminded Moses that God gave man the mouth to speak.[6]

Jack was then attending Bob Jones College. But he left the school in 1941.[7] He soon became an itinerant evangelist. By this time he and Dorothy had one son, Jack, Jr. (born in 1939). He would later have three other children, Susan (born 1943), Richard (born 1942) and Greg (born 1948).[8] For the next eight years Jack continued to hold evangelistic campaigns and had Cliff Barrows as his song leader and master of ceremonies when he was available.[9]

Barrows graduated from Bob Jones University in 1944. He met Billy Graham in 1945 at a Youth for Christ conference in North Carolina where Graham’s song leader was not available. Graham asked Barrows and Barrow’s wife, Billie, then newlyweds, if they would substitute for his absent music director, and they did. By 1949, the Barrows became a permanent fixture with Graham.

During his early days in evangelism, Jack received help from a town committee made up of local church leaders or a Christian businessmen’s committee or some other local church association. Jack would have an associate evangelist or some other business-oriented Christian go to the town ahead of time to organize such a group and to place ads. The ads would explain the united backing as well as Jack Shuler’s background. Usually, the ad would include something about Shuler turning down Hollywood for his evangelistic call.

Halfway through the 40s Shuler found additional help from a newly organized group. It would boost a number of evangelists and help bring about an evangelistic explosion that would last for decades. But before that, he gained much experience from preaching at Trinity Methodist church in Los Angeles where his father served as the minister.

[1] Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1939.

[2] Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1939.

[3] St. Joseph News-Press [Missouri], July 15, 1950.

[4] Joanne Braunberns, “Crusader Says People ‘Need to Be Helped’,” Eugene Register-Guard, August 11, 1957.

[5] “Shuler ‘Acted’ Himself Into Ministry” Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 10, 1956.

[6] My Life Story by Phil Shuler. n.d. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLLoWY-6Tuc.

[7] March 6, 2012 email correspondence between the author and Bob Jones University representative Julie Sabbadino, Constituent Services, who wrote that Shuler “attended Bob Jones from 1939 – 1941, but never graduated from here.”

[8] “Evangelist’s Wife Arrives: Doesn’t See Husband Often.” Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, September 28, 1956.

[9] Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (New York: HarperPaperbacks, 1997), 118; William Martin, A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1991), 94.

 

The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist” Chapter 5

Youth for Christ

Mid-20th century offered the perfect time and the right people. Evangelists exploded on the scene. America welcomed evangelists like never before. Or at least it seemed like it. Up till then things looked bleak for conservative Christianity.

The 1925 Scopes “monkey” trial pitted famous defense lawyer Clarence Darrow against avowed Christian William Jennings Bryan. Liberals thought conservative Christianity (called fundamentalism) would soon die out because the trial seemed to make a monkey out of them, at least in the public arena.

But fundamentalists looked to other ways for survival. They hoped to regain respect from the public, but more importantly, to find some way to bring revival to the church and salvation to the lost. And they found it. It happened gradually in the 30s and 40s through conservative efforts to start schools, conduct conferences, use radio for preaching, and form parachurch groups.

Early 20th century conservative Christians held some respect from many Americans though mainline denominations opposed them. The series of books called The Fundamentals (1910-1915) included a number of respected theologians in its articles. But the public debate declined after that. By the end of the first half of the second decade (1915), increasing division seemingly broke apart any hopes of conservative Christians speaking with one voice about the gospel.[1]

It seemed to be a hopeless situation. Yet it fooled naysayers. Contrary to what Harry Emerson Fosdick predicted, fundamentalists didn’t gradually die out. Rather, they grew under the radar. “Like overlaid map transparencies showing the highways, railroads, waterways, air routes, and communications lines that connect a modern society, each kind of collective undertaking gave fundamentalism another layer of infrastructure as a movement,” said historian Joel Carpenter.[2]

Ironically, mainline denomination began to decline. As Carpenter put it, “While liberal Protestant spokesmen smugly predicted that such ‘belated forms’ of religious life (fundamentalists) would ‘gradually be starved out,’ their own mainline Protestant denominations suffered a severe religious depression during the 30s. At the same time the fundamentalists – who talked melodramatically about being a tiny, despised minority – prospered.”[3]

Among collective undertakings Carpenter mentioned, which included Bible schools such as Moody and Biola, Bible conferences, publishing houses, radio programs such as Charles Fuller’s Old Fashioned Revival Hour, and parachurch organizations, there came a new organization. It filled a role more beneficial to evangelists than any other.

That most effective group for city-wide evangelism grew out of several youth-oriented organizations. It developed into a worldwide group called Youth for Christ International. This developing youth movement came at the very time Jack Shuler began preaching. Early youth leaders before YFC were Percy Crawford and Jack Wyrtzen. Then came Torrey Johnson.

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Torrey Johnson

In 1930, Percy Crawford started Young People’s Church of the Air in Philadelphia. By 1940 it was on scores of stations nationwide. His fast-paced show with contemporary-style music appealed to a large and young audience.

Jack Wyrtzen was converted at a conference conducted by Crawford in 1933. At that time Wyrtzen had a 12-piece jazz band. He soon was touring with an evangelistic team. In 1939 he started the Word of Life Fellowship and held radio rallies based in New York City.[4]

Torrey Johnson, a young Chicago pastor of Midwest Bible Church, took notice of Wyrtzen and others before organizing Chicagoland Youth for Christ. Johnson noticed tens of thousands coming to youth rallies organized by these and other fundamentalists. After taking note of these mass rallies in New York, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis in 1944, Johnson felt called to organize something similar in Chicago.

So he organized Chicagoland Youth for Christ. He rented Chicago’s prestigious Orchestra Hall for 21 weeks. The Saturday night rallies began on May 27, 1944.[5] That summer some of the leading evangelists including Billy Graham, Merv Rosell, Charles Templeton, and Jack Shuler preached there.[6]

By this time Jack Shuler and Billy Graham had become friends. In fact, more than a dozen of the evangelists at that time were becoming increasingly popular and shared their experiences with each other. Author Garth Rosell called them a “band of brothers.”[7]

In 1945 Torrey Johnson organized a huge youth rally in the largest arena available in Chicago. Called the YFC Chicagoland Memorial Day Rally, it took place at Soldier Field and saw most of the leading evangelists and conservative Christians on the stage. Charles Templeton introduced Torrey Johnson. Jack Shuler gave the opening prayer. Billy Graham represented the United States in the missionary pageant part of the event, and Percy Crawford preached. Hearst newspapers covered the event which drew a crowd of 75,000. They described Shuler as a Methodist youth evangelist from Wilmore, Kentucky.[8] (He was then attending Asbury Seminary where his brother, Bob, Jr. served as head of the department of Old Testament).[9] [5]

That July at Winona Lake, Indiana, youth rally leaders heard Johnson speak of the connection between citywide evangelistic revival meetings and Chicago’s Youth for Christ. Johnson was aiming for a worldwide organized group under the same name.

“We have within our hands the thing that every evangelist in the United States would like to have, some kind of a set-up by which we can hold city-wide revival meetings,” he said.[10]

The last great revivalist in America prior to 1940 had been the former baseball player turned preacher Billy Sunday. He hit his prime in the second decade of the 20th century.[11]

Both Shuler and Graham were well aware of Sunday’s role in American evangelism and heard first hand from Sunday’s wife, Nelle “Ma” Sunday. They also met Sunday’s song leader, Homer Rodeheaver. Shuler and Graham studied and borrowed from Sunday’s method of holding evangelistic meetings.

After the fundamentalist/modernist split among Protestants, no one outstanding evangelist had come on the scene since Sunday. Another sign of the changing religious scene came with the creation of National Association of Evangelicals with Harold John Ockenga, pastor of Park Street Congregational Church in Boston, as its first president in 1942. This group brought together conservative Christians from a number of different denominations and Christian organizations to cooperate in giving unity to fundamentalist Christianity.

Carl F.H. Henry added to this religious scene. With a journalistic background and degrees from Wheaton College (B.A. and M.A.), Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (ThD), and Boston University (PhD), he influenced the thinking of conservative Christians with his books, Remaking the Modern Mind (1946) and The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (1948). He went on to become the first editor of Christianity Today, the leading magazine of evangelical Christianity in America.

By the middle forties, Jack had developed his own evangelistic team which included Cliff Barrows as song leader and master of ceremonies. Barrows was a young Californian who had attended Bob Jones College and was an energetic preacher and talented musician.

During his time at Bob Jones, Jack met Cliff Barrows, a younger student, who attended from 1940 till 1944. In 1944 Barrows traveled with Jack Shuler as his song leader on evangelistic campaigns. Not till 1948 did Barrows serve regularly as Graham’s Master of Ceremonies and Music Director.

In the summer of 1945, Billy Graham met Barrows under special circumstances. Graham was scheduled to speak at the Ben Lippen Bible Conference in Asheville, North Carolina but found out shortly before the meeting that his regular song leader, Strat Shufelt, had returned to Chicago. Newspaperman James Adair suggested that he [Graham] use Cliff Barrows and his new wife, Billie, as substitutes. They happened to be on their honeymoon. And they had come to Asheville to hear Billy Graham.

“Both Cliff and Billie had attended Bob Jones College, and Cliff had heard Billy speak, but they had never met,” said historian William Martin. “Barrows, an appealing young California athlete with a radiant wholesomeness that could light up a tabernacle, had served as a chorister for Jack Shuler, a young evangelist at least as popular as Graham.”[12]

Billy Graham remembered as best he could his earliest use of Barrows occurring in the summer of 1946 when he went to Great Britain as a Youth for Christ representative. First, he lined up the team to go with him. “I asked Strat Shufelt if he would come with me as song leader since he was well known in Britain,” he said. “He and his wife, Marge, agreed to go with me; but two or three weeks before we were to leave, he called to say they just couldn’t leave there two little girls.

“So I turned to Jack Shuler’s song leader, Cliff Barrows.  He and his wife, Billie, said they would be thrilled to go. From time to time, Cliff and I had crossed paths; I had seen him lead the singing at Winona Lake, for example, and thought he had done a fine job. So Cliff and Billie Barrows came to my rescue. During this summer of 1946, I recruited them to form a team, with Cliff to lead the singing, Billie to play the piano, me to do the preaching.”[13]

Well into 1946 Cliff Barrows had worked with different evangelists but mostly Jack Shuler. Barrows led the singing for Shuler in early April. The Deseret News [Salt Lake City, Utah], April 4, 1946, reported that Barrows then served as a YFC Field Representative. He spoke at the YFC youth rally in Immanuel Auditorium at Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, April 6, 1946. The article added that the following Friday, April 11, Barrows would serve as song leader for Jack Shuler. Shuler would speak at the YFC banquet in Hotel Newhouse.

Meanwhile, Youth for Christ continued to grow along with the exploding interest in religion in America. It provided vast opportunities for the young evangelists to spread the good news. It sponsored or promoted any number of evangelists. And as evangelists multiplied, so did YFC. Historian Joel Carpenter said:

The evangelists on the Youth for Christ circuit whose programs had sparked this new [revival] movement were not to be outdone. They too wanted to lead extended citywide meetings, and they had no trouble in finding opportunities. Those who received the most calls included Merv Rosell, who had trained under William Bell Riley but restyled his work for the youth rally circuit; Jack Shuler, who was the son of Robert (Fighting Bob) Shuler, the Methodist radio preacher from Los Angeles; Charles Templeton, the charming and eloquent youth rally leader from Toronto; and Billy Graham, the Wheaton College graduate from North Carolina who had been groomed for leadership by Torrey Johnson.[14]

 

By the mid-forties Jack Shuler had become friends with Billy Graham through their common interest in preaching. They both held crusades that usually lasted from one to three or four weeks. Of course, most of these evangelistic campaigns were affiliated with Youth for Christ, though Jack and a number of other evangelists never officially became part of the organization.

Jack, along with evangelists such as Merv Rosell, Charles Templeton, Torrey Johnson, Jack Wyrtzen, Grady Wilson, Percy Crawford and many others, had close ties among themselves, sharing sermons, coordinating dates and places for their crusades, and even sharing personnel.[15] But among the scores of evangelists who flourished during the late forties and early fifties, Jack stood out.

Jack Shuler was one of a number of evangelists who spoke at Youth for Christ International meetings in Chicago in the first year of its existence. Others included Billy Graham, Charles Templeton, Jim Rayburn, Wendell Loveless, Merv Rosell, Harold Erickson, Dr. Paul Rood, Harry Rimmer, Henry Savage, Harry Ironside, Louis Talbot, .William Culbertson, Martin DeHaan, B. Lakin, Merrill MacPherson, Richard Harvey, Walter Wilson, John Zoller, V.R. Edman, Walter (Happy) MacDonald, Robert Murphin, Bob Jones, Jr., Isaac Page, Jimmie Johnson, Vincent Brushwyler, Walter Kallenbach, Clifford Lewis, R.G. LeTourneau, Wilbur Westerdahl, Theodore Anderson, Bob Cook, Mun Hope, and Hyman Appelman.[16]

Torrey Johnson, who had started Chicagoland Youth for Christ in the middle forties,[17] remembered Jack Shuler’s dynamic preaching in the forties and fifties. In an interview with Robert Shuster many years later, Johnson said the following:

 

In connection with Youth for Christ, we probably had three most eloquent men. One was Jack Shuler of Los Angeles, the son of Robert Shuler, who was pastor of the Trinity Methodist Church in downtown Los Angeles… [Jack] was a dramatic preacher. Charles Templeton was eloquent in a different way. I think those were the two best speakers we had in the movement. Now Jack Shuler was not in the movement, but alongside of, and we were the vehicle for many of his campaigns. Charles Templeton was in the movement. They were the two outstanding preachers we had…

Shuster: You said there were …three really eloquent speakers associated with YFC: Jack Shuler, Charles Templeton, and who was the third?

Johnson: The third would be Billy Graham.[18]

 

By the late forties, Templeton had doubts about his faith and eventually left the church. That left Shuler and Graham as the two leading evangelists of that era according to Torrey Johnson.

One other ingredient boosted Youth for Christ’s popularity, and in turn, the young evangelists. His name was William Randolph Hearst. This famous newspaper magnate believed in Youth for Christ. He said that it “will never be good enough or big enough until it involves all of our young people in this country.” And he ordered his editors to produce headline copy. So there was no lack of it in those days.[19]

According to Shuler’s oldest son, Jack Edward, Shuler attended Bob Jones College for a while in the early 1940s and Asbury Seminary for a year in the late 40s. His older brother, Bob, Jr., was a professor of Hebrew and Greek when Jack attended. Bob Jones University later gave Jack an honorary doctorate.

In late 1948 Jack held crusades in Indiana. At that time he had no regular team with him. Papers made announcements of the events. One said:

Union Services

Jack Shuler, nationally known California evangelist, will conduct union evangelistic services nightly from Oct. 3-10 in Lincoln High school auditorium. Pete Borland, soloist and song director, has been obtained to conduct the song services.

Twelve churches in Milton, Dublin, East Germantown, and Cambridge City are participating. An invitation is extended to everyone to attend.

 

Another said:

National Road Traveler,

October 7, 1948.

Evangelist Arrives

Jack Shuler, evangelist, arrived here Sunday by plane from California to conduct union services every evening this week at 7:30 o’clock at the Lincoln High school auditorium. (Note: Lincoln High School was in Cambridge City, Indiana). Morning services will be held every morning at 10 o’clock in the Presbyterian church.

The choir, led by Pete Borland from Asbury College, Kentucky, is made up of members of choirs from the eight neighboring churches which are participating in the community event. Additional singers are needed in the choir. Mrs. Walter McGuire and Donald Lamberson are pianists.

[1] George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism 1870-1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 141-183.

[2] Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York: University of Oxford Press, 1997), 31.

[3] Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York: University of Oxford Press, 1997), 15.

[4] Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York: University of Oxford Press, 1997), 163-165.

[5] Mel Larson, Young Man on Fire: The Story of Torrey Johnson and Youth for Christ (Chicago: Youth Publications, Inc., 1945), 80-81.

[6] Mel Larson, Young Man on Fire: The Story of Torrey Johnson and Youth for Christ (Chicago: Youth Publications, Inc., 1945), 83.

[7] Garth M. Rosell, The Surprising Work of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 107ff.

[8] 1945 YFC Chicagoland Memorial Day Rally http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/exhibits/YFC%201945/04%20program%2004.html See also James Hefley, God Goes to High School (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1970), 25.

[9] “Dr. Shuler, Visiting Evangelist, To Conduct Methodist Services” Prescott Evening Courier [Arizona], October 15, 1965.

[10] Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York: University of Oxford Press, 1997), 171.

[11] Lyle W. Dorsett, Billy Sunday and the Redemption of Urban America (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991), 85-123.

[12] William Martin, A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story (New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1991), 94.

[13] Billy Graham, Just As I Am (San Francisco: Zondervan, 1997), 101.

[14] Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 214.

[15] Garth M. Rosell, The Surprising Work of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 118-124.

[16] Mel Larson, Young Man on Fire (Chicago: Youth Publications, Inc., 1945), 83.

[17] William Martin, A Prophet With Honor (New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc., 1991), 90-95.

[18] Collection 285, T4. Interview of Torrey Maynard Johnson by Robert Shuster, February 13, 1984. http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/trans/285t04.htm

[19] Mel Larson, Young Man on Fire (Chicago: Youth Publications, Inc., 1945), 13.

The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist” Chapter 6

City to City, 1950 through 1953

When the 1949 Christ for Greater Los Angeles crusade got underway on Sunday, September 25, Jack Shuler was holding his own crusades. He had finished a two-week campaign in Saginaw, Michigan before holding a four-week campaign in Des Moines, Iowa in October. Freshly back from Iowa to his California home in Baldwin Park, he was to be present at the closing day of the Graham crusade on Monday night, October 17.

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The Billy Graham evangelistic meetings in the big tent at Washington and Hill streets comes to a close Monday evening at 7:30 with a victory celebration in which hundreds of churches will participate,” reported a Hollywood paper.

The final meeting of the crusade will be a victory celebration in which all of the artists who have assisted Billy Graham in his Los Angeles meetings will appear.

Jack Shuler of Los Angeles, nationally famous evangelist, will be present Monday evening when Billy Graham will speak on ‘Crossing God’s Deadline.’[1]

Before Monday arrived, the Christ for Greater Los Angeles committee decided to extend the meetings another week. Instead of attending Monday, Shuler came Tuesday and took part in the introductory comments preceding Billy Graham’s sermon on “Laughter”.

Speaking in his relaxed southern drawl, Shuler held the audience’s attention. Once introduced, he said, “You know, after that introduction, I can hardly wait to see what I’m going to say.” Then he turned his attention to Graham. “I love this man,” he said. “We’ve been friends down through the years but we’ve been so busy listening to our own sermons we haven’t had time to hear each other’s.”

Then he pleaded for people to pray. Since Shuler knew personally what preaching campaigns took out of anyone, he asked those attending his crusades to pray that God would give Billy “the greatest power he has had, give him the greatest reaching of souls, and give him an atomic explosion of spiritual bombs … and just take the face of the earth.”

He concluded his pleading as follows:

Pray for Billy Graham as he preaches tonight. He’s tired. You don’t know – nobody knows except the one who stands behind the sacred desk, between the living and the dead, to declare a message that’s a saver of life unto life and death unto death. No one knows the burden that presses down upon a young man’s shoulders except those who have been there. And I tell you tonight, he needs your prayers – he needs your prayers. At every one of these services he needs your help. So go out and get your friends … Bring in unsaved people. And we’re going to see them saved.[2]

A week later, Tuesday, October 25, Jack again took part in the introductory comments to Graham’s sermon. This time he sounded even more laid back.

“Hi, everybody,” he said. “Good to be with you. I wanted to hear Billy Graham preach again. I told him the other night that I felt like I’d better just throw away all my sermons and start over. He’s one of the greatest preachers I’ve ever heard. God certainly is upon him. His spirit is with him. And that’s the best thing about him. He’s humble. He doesn’t take any credit.

“We praise God for every soul that has been saved and I know Los Angeles will never get over the effects of this spiritual atom bomb that has been dropped here in these days. Let’s pray that many more souls will find Christ during these coming evening services.”[3]

A member of the Christ for Greater Los Angeles committee followed Shuler’s comments. He expressed hope that both Shuler and Graham would hold meetings again in the Los Angeles area in the near future. “I was talking to Jack on the phone and have a tentative date for him for a campaign in this area next year,” he said, though he mentioned that no firm date had yet been set and asked the audience to pray about it.[4]

The crusade this time was scheduled to end on Sunday, October 30. But again it was extended. By this time Billy Graham was exhausted and asked Jack Shuler to take his place on Monday.

So that Monday night, October 31, Jack substituted as guest evangelist. A week earlier William Randolph Hearst was said to have asked his reporters to boost their coverage of the crusade. These meetings were now on the verge of receiving nationwide attention. The response the night Shuler spoke was as great as any other night of the crusade.

Well-known celebrity cowboy and recording artist Stuart Hamblen had recently accepted Christ as his savior after coming under conviction through the meetings, as had the famous athlete Louis Zamperini. Both gave their testimony the night Shuler spoke.

Speaking about the crusade as a whole, I.A. “Daddy” Moon, a personal worker for Graham later said, “It has not been Billy Graham’s preaching only. The night Jack Shuler preached we had as many converts. When Stuart Hamblen and Jim Vaus gave their testimonies, the decisions were as great, if not greater.”[5]

Crusade Planning

The stunning success of Billy Graham’s Los Angeles crusade didn’t just happen. It took a vast amount of planning, starting with the Christ for Greater Los Angeles Committee.

The Christ for Greater Los Angeles Committee was organized by Clifford Smith and led by Claude C. Jenkins, executive secretary. This committee put together a long-range plan for evangelistic meetings from 1943 and on through 1950.

From the start, it determined to pick the best evangelists in America. After the wildly successful 1949 Billy Graham campaign, the Board of Directors released a letter recounting the group’s work. It not only looked forward to the future but reviewed past events.

In 1943-1944 it sponsored citywide campaigns by Hyman Appelman. On October 8, 1945, it sponsored a youth rally held in the Hollywood Bowl, with Jack Shuler. According to the Los Angeles Examiner, 18,000 attended. and there were 1000 decisions for Christ. The committee then sponsored a Joe Hankins campaign in 1946. In June 1947 it sponsored a campaign conducted by Charles Templeton and Merv Rosell. On June 21, 1947, it sponsored another youth rally in the Hollywood Bowl with Billy Graham. In 1948 it sponsored a citywide campaign at Adams and Grand led by Jack Shuler. Some $3,500 left over was used to support Billy Graham’s 1949 campaign.

The first event the committee announced for the future pointed to Jack Shuler. “There are many calls on us for a united campaigns for 1950,” The letter said, and added, “One [call] has already been set up for the Harbor Area, taking in San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Lomita, etc., with Jack Shuler and Jack Holcomb as the evangelists, for September 1950.”

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L.A. Committee Plan fulfilled

Shuler Holcomb 1960

True to their word, they backed Shuler, and a number of churches from the Harbor Area sponsored his Crusade for Christ in September 1950. The September 14, 1950, Peninsula Press published the following article with the headline reading “Evangelist ‘Sawdust Crusade” Opened by Jack Shuler September 10”:

Jack Shuler, 31-year-old dramatic – fiery evangelist, opened a 22-day ‘sawdust crusade’ in a 2500-seat circus tent at Vermont and Pacific Coast Highway Sept. 10 and religious leaders of the 50 cooperating churches in the Los Angeles harbor area predict that it will be the greatest religious awakening in the history of the harbor section of Southern California.

More than 3000 heard the evangelist on opening day call against the devil and his underlings as he summoned sinners to confess their wrongdoings to Christ.

Dr. Shuler comes from a long line of preachers. His grandfather, the Rev. J.W.W. Shuler is 90 years old and still a Methodist pastor in Hillsboro, Texas. His father, Dr. Robert “Bob” Shuler is the two-fisted pastor of Trinity Methodist Church, Los Angeles. Jack’s brother, Dr. Robert P. Shuler, Jr., is professor of Greek, Hebrew and Old Testament at Asbury, Ky., and another brother, Phil, also a minister is associated in his harbor crusade for Christ. Phil’s wife, Marie, is official crusade organist. Jack’s wife, Dorothy, is home in Baldwin Park with Jack’s four youngsters.

The campaign, which is scheduled to continue through Sunday, October 1, is sponsored by a group of churches representing many denominations under the banner of the Harbor Crusade for Christ and with the guidance of Christ for Greater Los Angeles of which C.C. Jenkins is executive director. Rev. John C. Derfelt, pastor of the Wilmington First Baptist church is chairman of the executive committee for the meetings.

With the assistance of Jack Holcomb, stratospheric tenor, the Shuler evangelistic party assisted by a 100-voice choir and hundreds of personal workers, ushers and others has started what many believe will be the most vital thrust at ungodliness ever made in this community.

Services continue nightly at 7:30, Sundays at 3:00 and 7:30 with special services for children Saturday mornings at 10 o’clock. The committee invites everyone to attend. There is no charge for admittance and parking is free. The steeple of light directs the crowds to the canvas cathedral.

Other 1950 Crusades

After the 1949 Graham crusade and before the Harbor Area crusade in September, Shuler held crusades in Indiana and Missouri. He preached in Fort Wayne in July 1950. Then starting on July 30 and through August he held crusade meetings in St. Joseph, Missouri. The July 15, 1950, St. Joseph News-Press ran the following article before the Missouri crusade with the headline, “38 Churches to Take Part in Evangelistic Crusade”:

Thirty-eight churches will join in the Jack Shuler evangelistic crusade which will open here July 30 at 7:30 p.m. at First Methodist Church. The crusade was scheduled to start this Sunday, but Doctor Shuler, who is engaged in a similar campaign in Fort Wayne, Ind., finds that due to the success there, he will remain until the 28th.

George Arneson is chairman of the crusade here, with Dr. D.J. Van Devander also co-chairman. Dr. M.S. Harvey is in charge of the publicity. Fred C. Kellogg is chairman of the ushers, and Lee E. White, chairman of properties and arrangements. The prayer chairman is the Rev. J.D. Cooper…

Doctor Shuler has had a varied career. At 17 he was determined to become a movie actor and, in fact, had several offers from Hollywood studios. His father suggested he attend Bob Jones College in South Carolina to study Shakespeare, speech and dramatics. It was here, in the Christian atmosphere, that he was converted and began his work for the ministry.

Shuler’s younger brother Phil, and his wife, Marie, were part of the crusade as they would be in the Harbor Area crusade. They stayed with Jack till 1952.

Humor

Whether as a child speaking back to Los Angeles gangsters, a young evangelist speaking at the Billy Graham Christ for Greater Los Angeles crusade, or as an evangelist tricking his audience into raising their hands, he loved a good joke. He liked good-natured, tongue-in-cheek kidding even at the cost of alienating some listeners or perhaps even fellow evangelists who charged him with wrongdoing.

As a boy walking home from school with his brothers, he showed no fear when Los Angeles gangsters drove alongside them and asked if they were the Shuler boys. Jack’s answer: “The last time I looked we were.”

At Billy Graham’s 1949 LA crusade on October 18th, Shuler spoke a few words before Graham preached. After being introduced, Shuler had the audience laughing twice in the first minute he spoke.

“You know, after that introduction,” he said, “I can hardly wait to see what I’m going to have to say.” [laughter] “I love this man [Graham]. And we’ve been friends down through the years but we’ve been so busy listening to our own sermons we haven’t had time to hear each other’s.” [laughter][6]

Anyone who heard Shuler preach would more than likely run across his sense of humor. At the time Billy Graham was holding his 1949 meetings in Los Angeles, Shuler was holding a crusade in Saginaw, Michigan. In one of his messages he had trouble speaking because of his “paper lungs” which plagued him to the end of his days. But in Saginaw he blamed it on an air draft and asked that, if possible, vents over him be closed. He minimized the interruption by suggesting that perhaps someone over him needed to be let down to be healed as happened with Jesus when he healed an invalid who was lowered through the roof.

The Reading [Pennsylvania] Eagle, August 4, 1950, carried an Associated Press report from St. Joseph, Missouri as follows:

Evangelist Jack Shuler, leading an interdenominational revival, yesterday asked his audience how many heard “my program this morning on radio station KRES?”

About 50 persons held up their hands.

“Friends,” said Shuler, “the devil is at work in St. Joseph [Missouri]. I wasn’t on the air this morning.”

(See also The Free Lance-Star [Fredericksburg, Virginia], August 4, 1950).

Shuler began to be called “Doctor Shuler” by the 1950s. That was based on an honorary doctorate he received from Bob Jones University. Shuler’s oldest son said that it, along with other claims in his crusades, was based on fact.

…[Dad] and Bob Jones Jr. were “best friends” and he [Jack] WAS awarded an honorary DD from BJU. And, yes, he had a couple of feelers from Hollywood early-on—it MAY have been why he went to BJU for a year at Granddad’s expense. In any case, that is where he was saved. He DID go to Asbury Seminary for one year—dropped out after one year and started small evangelistic meetings in rural Kentucky. We lived there until I was seven- – -and moved to California. His ministry rise was meteoric, as was his eventual downfall…[7]

Opinions

Because of Shuler’s popularity, he received many letters from fans and foes, some of them published in newspapers. For example, the following pro and con opinions were published in Missouri.

People’s Forum

Evangelist Jack Shuler

Editor News-Press. As a life-long member of St. Joseph’s citizenry, and as a member of St. Joseph Protestantism, I wish to express my sincere approval of the wonderful revival now being conducted by Jack Shuler and his co-workers in our city.

Mr. Shuler’s messages are true to the Scriptures and spirit-filled. It is the Christians of all denominations who need reviving and sermons based on Jesus Christ, virgin-born Son of God, Who died on the cross shedding his blood for our sins; tell of God’s love for us and revive us again. May God Himself strengthen and empower Mr. Shuler for this great work among us.

It is too bad that our Ministerial Alliance does not see fit to co-operate by attending the services. The St. Joseph Council of Churches is hurting itself in the eyes of our people by not actively supporting this campaign. Talk is rife concerning it.

Liberal and modern theology does not satisfy the soul and the hungering multitudes gather together when the spiritual food they know they need is to be given them.

God bless Mr. Jack Shuler and all preachers like him. – Sincerely, Mrs. Robt. O. Cox, 423 Dolman, City, Member 3rd Street Presbyterian Church.

St. Joseph [Missouri] News-Press, August 14, 1950

People’s Forum

Aftermath on Shuler

Editor News-Press Much has been said, both pro and con, about the Jack Shuler revival which has just ended, that I am wondering if it would be too much to ask that a list of the “more than a score of cooperating churches” (to quote one of Mr. Borland’s articles about 10 days ago) be published so that we may know who sponsored the revival here.

I said from the first (when the advertising and news article concerning the coming of Jack Shuler to St. Joseph were first published) that it would seem to me that if those who were sponsoring his coming were not ashamed of the fact or afraid to “stand and be counted,” the list of sponsors would have been published right then and would have continued to be included in the advertising throughout the three-week campaign.

It was interesting to me to read the accounts of the sermons. I found the first week’s articles to be quite sensible and thought that the quotations from Mr. Shuler’s sermons contained many good points. However, as the campaign progressed I thought there was a deterioration both in sermon content and in the manner in which the articles were written.

Again I say I’d like to see a list of the sponsoring churches published so that everyone may know who is responsible. They should be proud to say so if they feel the courage of their convictions. – Ethel G. Childers, 511 Hamburg Avenue.

St. Joseph [Missouri] News-Press, August 22, 1950

1951

Jack Shuler’s evangelistic campaigns continued to be popular thru 1951. His Key to Life campaign in Grand Rapids, Michigan sponsored by the Christian Businessmen’s Committee was not the only successful crusade he had in 1951.

In April, Fishers of Men of St. Petersburg, Florida celebrated their second anniversary. The national organization, called Fishers of Men, Inc., had begun in 1917 following a revival in Atlanta conducted by Billy Sunday. The sole purpose of the group was to “win people over to Christ.”

“Four of the country’s leading evangelists, Hyman Appleman, Jack Shuler, Harry McCormick Lintz and Billy Graham, are co-operating with the group in holding mass evangelistic meetings in various sections of the United States,” said a 1951 newspaper article. “Daily attendance at services run as high as 25,000.”[8]

In June Shuler held a three-week campaign called Siouxland Crusade for Christ in the Sioux City, Iowa area. It was scheduled to run from June 3 through June 24, 1951, but it was held over for another week. There was one boy attending who would remember it the rest of his life. Dan Betzer recalled as a 13-year-old the meetings he attended.

shuler-ch-6_2_a

The meeting[s] … began with a thud. Maybe 300 in that huge arena. But the preacher was Jack Shuler. To this day … Jack was the greatest preacher I ever heard… By the scheduled end of the meeting[s], the arena was packed with thousands of eager hearers. [The three-week crusade was then extended another week]. On the final night, the crusade was moved to the baseball park. The stands were jammed, with hundreds more sitting on the field.

It was on the first Thursday night of Shuler’s preaching that I went forward during the invitation and gave my life to Christ. Jack himself prayed with me in the prayer room… I often thank the Lord that my path crossed that of Jack Shuler. He died … far too young and far too early. All of Christendom lost a gift … a great evangelist.”[9]

In July Shuler held a campaign in Topeka, Kansas. Herb Hoover served as his music director.[10]

Shuler continued to speak at Youth for Christ gatherings. For example, in 1951 he was among a list of 40 evangelists who spoke at Winona Lake. An Indiana paper reported the following:

Dr. Billy Graham At Winona Lake Next Week

Winona Lake, Indiana

July 6, 1951

Crowds up to 15,000 are expected at Winona Lake next week when Billy Graham, first vice-president of Youth for Christ International and the country’s No. 1 evangelist, speaks at three mass meetings of the World Congress on Evangelism.

Graham also will aid Dr. Robert Cook, Youth for Christ International president, in presiding at the business sessions of the 7th annual convention.

The 32-year old Graham heads a list of 40 evangelists who will speak in the 7500-seat Billy Sunday tabernacle at the Congress which ends on July 15. He is scheduled to speak Tuesday night at 7:45 o’clock, Friday night at 7:45 o’clock, and on Sunday, July 15, at 2:30 p.m. when his Hour of Decision will be broadcast from the grounds…

Other speakers next week will include Dick Hillis, just home from Formosa, Rev. Hubert Mitchell of Calcutta, India, Dr. Lucio Mirabelli of Rome, Italy, Dr. Torrey M. Johnson of Chicago, Rev. Jack Shuler of Los Angeles, Calif., Phil Riggs of Siloam Springs, Ark., and many others.[11]

1952

Danville, Virginia

Shuler opened his three-week revival in Virginia on February 24 at Growers Warehouse in Danville. It was sponsored by 25 churches. It started with 2,000 to 2,500 attending. By the close of the crusade, attendance had doubled. In the last two days, one service on Saturday and two on Sunday, March 16, some 14,000 attended.[12]

One who attended these meetings remembered how good they were. In a book called Nalley, a Southern Family Story by Evelyn Nalley McCollum (2002), a letter between relatives dated March 9, 1952, said, “Danville [Virginia] is having a city-wide revival in one of the big tobacco warehouses. Jack Shuler, Herb Hoover and the organist [Bob Anderson] are former students of Bob Jones University. He [Shuler] surely preaches the Gospel. His services are similar to those of Billy Graham. Some here like Jack Shuler better than B. Graham.”

After his Danville revival, Shuler held crusades in Anchorage, Alaska and Rochester, New York before heading to Kansas City.[13]

Kansas City, Missouri

Shuler held a three-week crusade in Kansas City, Missouri starting June 28, 1952. Full page ads in the Kansas City Star announced a week before the meetings that 210 churches supported his campaign that would be held in the Municipal Auditorium Arena…

 

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On the day that coming crusade was to begin, the Kansas City Star ran another full-page ad about that first night. It introduced the guests that would be attending that night and later on, as well as his evangelistic team. He now regularly traveled with Herb Hoover as his music director and Bob Anderson as keyboard artist. The crusade was held over for an extra week.

In August 1952 Shuler held a crusade in Oregon. It was called the Eugene-Springfield Gospel Crusade. The Eugene Register-Guard ran the following article:

shuler-ch-6_4_a

In Billy Graham Tradition

‘Mac’ Court Scene of Shuler Revival

Eugene [Oregon] Register-Guard, August 10, 1952

Jack Shuler, a 34-year-old evangelist in “the Billy Graham” tradition, will open a three-week series of preachments in Eugene Sunday at 3 p.m. Evangelistic services will continue each evening in McArthur Court, with what the revival team promises will be outstanding musical events, revival preaching, and eventually “altar calls.”

Sponsored by 30 churches in the Eugene-Springfield area, Shuler expects to pack the big campus basketball pavilion several times during the three weeks.

Altar Calls Due

Bob Schaper, associate evangelist and advance man for Shuler, said he didn’t know if Shuler would have an altar call the first night or not. But he will certainly have them later in the series, Schaper said.

(An altar call is a ceremony in which persons wishing to be “saved” come forward to the altar for additional prayer and exercises under the evangelist’s direction.)

Besides Shuler and Schaper, principal members of the team are Herb Hoover, song director, and Bob Anderson, organist. One of Anderson’s principal feats is playing arrangements of favorite hymns on the organ and piano at the same time.

“It has to be seen to be appreciated,” Schaper said.

Shuler, an ordained Methodist minister, conducts revival meetings by which Shuler said he means it is not slanted toward a particular denomination.

Four generations of Shulers are still preaching. They include Jack Shuler’s 92-year-old grandfather, his [Jack’s] father, and his teenage son, Jack Jr. The evangelist can trace his ancestry back to men active in the Reformation movement with Martin Luther and to others who were with John Wesley when that evangelist preached from his father’s tombstone.

Turned Down Movies

A former Whittier College football star and quarter-miler, Shuler was active in college dramatics and had an attractive offer from the motion picture industry. Instead of going into the movies, he went to Ashbury Seminary and then went out to preach. He has preached in 44 states in the past 12 years.

The revival team recently closed in Kansas City, where the program was sponsored by 200 churches for a four-week series. The team also appeared recently in Fort Wayne, Ind., Louisville Ky., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Danville, Va.

Eugene [Oregon] Register-Guard, August 10, 1952

One sermon that Shuler would preach in most if not all of his crusades centered on prohibition. Many at that time regretted that the 18th amendment had been reversed by the 21st. A Eugene Register-Guard article described Shuler’s sermon and his crusade in general.

Shuler Raps Evil Found in Bottles

Eugene Register-Guard, August 25, 1952

By Peter Tugman

Register-Guard Staff Writer

Brandishing an empty fifth of rye, Evangelist Jack Shuler Sunday told a crowd of nearly 3,000, “When we break this bottle, when we break all bottles and drive this scourge from our land, we will gain a greater freedom than we ever did when we freed the Negroes from their slavery.”

Shuler, whose topic was “Is Liquor Here to Stay?” is commencing the third of a three-week evangelical crusade in Eugene. He has with him an “evangelical team” including a choir, music director, pianist-organist, and associate evangelist.

Many Cars

Sunday there were many cars outside huge McArthur Court carrying stickers from rural schools as well as the “cold fire” lettered banner advertising the Shuler meeting. Inside most of the audience seemed to be older people. Many carried Bibles and some carried boxed dinners. A group of young Orientals sat quietly in the rear. And at least one of the audience had a special interest in the topic – liquor.

He buttonholed a reporter and said, “He knows what he’s talking about. I know.” He exhibited a card given him when he was treated for alcoholism at a Seattle sanitarium.

The basement of the huge athletic arena is given over to a prayer room for converts and to facilities for children.

There were about 30 babies in the nursery, presided over by Mrs. Katherine Stelting of the Light House Temple. Next door was a “children’s church” with the Rev. Jack Dabner of the Willakenzie Community Church in charge. The children were singing much more lustily than their parents upstairs. All seemed to know the words to hymns like “Just a Little Light of Mine.”

At the conclusion of one hymn, Dabney asked for volunteers to give a three-word “testimonial.” He had trouble restricting the youngsters to three words. A little girl grabbed the mike and volleyed “I love the Lord with all my heart and I am going all the way with Him.”

Next door was a room for toddlers up to 4 years. They played beneath a sign which said, “All ball-players clean spikes outside.”

Takes Offering

Upstairs, musical director Herb Hoover was warming up the crowd with songs and homespun wisecracks. After several songs, and speakers, Shuler introduced the Rev. Bobby Schaper who announced, “Now I’m going to take up the offering. Aren’t you glad?”

Attendants had distributed envelopes marked “My love offering to Herb Hoover,” with a space for the donor’s name and the amount given. After explaining that Hoover, the choir director, receives no fixed salary, Schaper said that the offering for Hoover would be made that night: that the afternoon offering was for “incidental expenses.”

We’re within $2,800 of clearing this up,” he said, “and I think we can do it this afternoon. You know when you give to God it either reflects your faith or reflects upon it.”

He recommended that anyone who would not attend the evening session “donate now” to Hoover. “If you’re planning to give $1 or $5 or $10 a night, put it all in the envelope now.”

Then as the organist played softly, attendants passed cardboard containers through the audience. The usually smiling Hoover sat with bowed head beneath a banner that said, “Christ is the Answer.”

After the offering, Shuler launched into his sermon – a vigorous denunciation of liquor…

 

Many participants in Jack Shuler’s Oregon crusade responded enthusiastically. His appeal would continue to be highly popular along the west coast. At this time he regularly took associate evangelist, Dr. Bob Schaper, with him. At the close of the Oregon crusade, the Eugene paper published this article.

Shuler Closes Gospel Crusade

Prohibition Party Candidate Appears

Eugene Register-Guard, September 2, 1952

An estimated 3,800 persons attended the closing rally of the Jack Shuler Gospel Crusade at McArthur Court Monday night. Stuart Hamblen, Prohibition Party presidential candidate, sang several of his songs including, “It Is No Secret What God Can Do,” and his latest number, “Known Only To Him.”

Hamblen, a former alcoholic, said he was converted in 1949 in the Billy Graham campaign in Los Angeles. Speaking briefly of his candidacy, he stated, “I really do not want to be President. I am afraid if I were elected I would be as confused as the one who is now in that position.

In his final message in Eugene, Jack Shuler spoke briefly on “God’s Power to Remake a Broken Life.” Nearly 100 came forward in response to the invitation. The Rev. Duane Muth, chairman of the counselors, reported that more than 600 signed cards during the crusade, stating their acceptance of Christ or rededication.

Dr. Vance H. Webster, general chairman of the crusade, stated that offerings were sufficient to take care of all expenses and that the cooperating churches were well pleased with the attendance and results of the three-week campaign.

Some of the sermons Shuler preached had been honed by him throughout his crusades. In fact this year, 1952, his first book hit the presses. Published by Zondervan, a leading Christian publishing house, it included shortened versions of 38 of Shuler’s sermons and was titled, Shuler’s Short Sermons.

Shuler put all his abilities on display when he preached/acted out “David and Bathsheba”. He drew from his award-winning sermon when he preached on “The Crucifixion.” And he again put his acting as well as preaching to work for him when he spoke on “Is Liquor Here to Stay?”, breaking a bottle in the process. Another feature he used repeatedly in his crusades was the presence of Stuart Hamblen who usually sang the popular song, “It is no secret.”

1953

Shuler started 1953 with a bang. In January he began planning for another campaign in familiar territory – Los Angeles. It was planned to be a three-week county-wide crusade starting May 24 and continuing through June 14. It would take place in a tent on Washington Boulevard and Hill Street where Graham had conducted his now famous 1949 crusade. It would even use the same L.A. executive director Claude E. Jenkins as Graham had used.

The April 19, 1953 issue of the Los Angeles Times reported that a prayer mobilization had been launched the previous week in preparation for the crusade. The May 23, 1953 Los Angeles Times reported that “Student groups from Southland divinity colleges will be featured at the 3 p.m. opening rally tomorrow of the Jack Shuler evangelistic campaign in a circus tent at Washington Blvd. and Hill St.”

Another way he promoted his coming campaign was by distributing a short movie he had made of one of his earlier crusades in Los Angeles (he held crusades there in 1945 and 1948). For one example, a short article appearing 10 days before his coming L.A. crusade read as follows:

American Baptist – Covina [California] Argus-Citizen, May 14, 1953 Section 3 page 4

First Baptist Church

200 N 2nd Street, Covina, California

Evening service at 7:30 p.m. Guest speaker, evangelist Benny Bates will speak on the topic, “The Church That Hell Cannot Stop!” Also there will be shown a 6-minute movie of Jack Shuler and his team presenting the Greater Los Angeles Evangelistic Crusade.

Once the 1953 L.A. crusade started, it was almost guaranteed to draw large crowds, and it did. The opening night proved to be highly successful.

The Times (May 25, 1953) reported that “A standing-room-only crowd listened to Evangelist Dr. Jack Shuler preach on ‘A God’s-Eye Photograph of Los Angeles’ at the opening meeting of Christ for Greater Los Angeles 350-church united evangelistic campaign at Washington Blvd.”

The May 30 Times reported that Shuler said religion had a 12 to one shot. The next day the paper said that:

“Fifteen hundred children aged 2 to 14 watched magicians, listened to a ventriloquist, sang songs and heard a sermon that impressed 300 of them enough yesterday that they committed themselves to Christ.”

The following day, June 1, the paper said, “Jack Shuler, evangelist, brought the gospel home to about 5000 yesterday at the Washington Blvd. and Hill St. tent cathedral where he is in the second week of a 22-day revival crusade.”

As the closing date neared, it was decided to have the crusade extended, but that was still not the end. The June 21 Times said, “The Jack Shuler revival campaign at Washington Blvd. and Hill St., originally scheduled to close after 22 days on June 14 and extended for an additional week, will go on for still another week and definitely close June 28.”

The June 29 Times finally reported that “Jesus Christ is the most acclaimed, yet the most neglected person, Evangelist Jack Shuler said yesterday in a sermon winding up a five-week revival crusade at Washington Blvd. and Hill St.”

[1] “To Close Monday: Film Folk Attending Tent Meets,” Citizen-News, Hollywood, Saturday, October 15, 1949. 7.

[2] October 18, 1949 http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/exhibits/LA49/05sermons01.html

[3] Into the Big Tent: Billy Graham and the 1949 Christ for Greater Los Angeles campaign: Sermons. October 25, 1949. http://espace.wheaton.edu/bgc/audio/cn026t0215b.mp3.

[4] Eventually the date was set for September 10 through October 1, 1950.

[5] Youth for Christ magazine, January 1950, 17.

[6] http://espace.wheaton.edu/bgc/audio/cn026t0210a.mp3

[7] Email correspondence with Jack Edward Shuler, January15, 2015.

[8] St. Petersburg [Florida]Times, April 7, 1951.

[9] Dan Betzer, Godcast (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 2008), 212. An Executive Presbyter of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, Betzer was the speaker on Revivaltime, a syndicated radio broadcast reaching 700 stations in over 80 nations for 17 years.

[10] Lawrence Journal-World [Kansas], July 24, 1951.

[11] “Dr. Billy Graham at Winona Lake Next Week.” Royal Centre, Cass County, Indiana. Royal Centre, Indiana; July 6, 1951.

[12] Danville Bee, February 25, 1952, 13; March 17, 1952, 16.

[13] Eugene Register-Guard, May 17, 1952.

The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist” Chapter 7

City to City, 1954 and 1955

Jack Shuler knew how to open a crusade. He had more than a decade of experience by the time he came to Wichita, Kansas. Both local newspapers, the Wichita Beacon and the Wichita Eagle, ran editorials written by Shuler in preparation. On Saturday, January 2 The Wichita Eagle published “Thought for the Week” from Shuler, who centered his thoughts on the Bible and Christ. The crusade would run from Sunday, January 3 through January 24, 1954.

On Monday, January 4, Shuler’s editorial, “Idea is World’s Strongest Force,” appeared in the Wichita Beacon.

The Sunday evening events took place at the Forum, the largest auditorium in the city. When not meeting there, services were held at the Arcade next to the Forum, a somewhat smaller facility.

Shuler ran an ad the same day as the January 2 editorials giving some details about the crusade. Shuler would also preach on local radio stations during the crusade. He could be heard on KWBB (1040) daily from 10:05 till 10:20 am and on KJRG (950) daily from 2:00 till 2:30 pm.

The Saturday ad said meetings would be held from Sunday, January 3 thru January 24. Weekday rallies would be held at 2:30 and 7:30 at the Arcadia Theater. Sundays, Jan 10, 17, 24, they were to be held at 2:30 and 7:30 at the Forum. Church Loyalty Night was held on Tuesday at West High School Auditorium.

Shuler brought with him the same team he had settled on in 1953. It consisted of Don DeVos, music director; Bob Anderson, keyboard player; and Sam Allred, tenor soloist.

Shuler thought for week Wich

Shuler had a number of well-honed sermons he included in most if not all of his crusades. Some of his favorites included “David and Bathsheba,” “Samson and Delilah,” “Barabbas,” “Is Liquor here to Stay,” “History’s Horror Picture” or “The Crucifixion,” “Hollywood Religion,” and “America’s Foremost Evangelist.”

Each had their strong points. “David and Bathsheba,” “Samson and Delilah,” and “Barabbas” emphasized Shuler’s acting ability, playing each part majestically. “The crucifixion” contained material Shuler had used in his early 1950s award-winning sermon, “History’s Horror Picture.” The sermon was included in his father’s book, Some Dogs I Have Known. Shuler had some experience in the Hollywood crowd from his experience as an actor. Also, he lived close to Hollywood. So he could speak with some knowledge about “Hollywood Religion”.

His sermon, “America’s Foremost Evangelist” served as a trick to his audience. The phrase, “America’s Foremost Evangelist” had described Billy Graham ever since his 1949 Los Angeles crusade. So to those unaware, they came expecting Billy Graham to make a guest appearance or at least to listen to a sermon about Billy Graham. But Shuler had a trick up his sleeve. He preached either on the Holy Spirit or a person’s conscience. In his Wichita sermon Shuler preached on the conscience since he previously had preached on “The Truth about the Holy Spirit.”

Both a person’s conscience and the Holy Spirit could “evangelize” the individual as long as the conscience was not cauterized (1 Timothy 4:2) or the Holy Spirit quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19).[1]

Other sermons centered on current events, such as “God’s Answer to the Kinsey Report” or “The H-Bomb.” Still others centered on the gospel message. The first two sermons preached in Wichita were “What Must I do to be Saved?” and “The Saga of the Forgotten Man” (on the life of Christ).

Then some concentrated on theological truths taught in Scripture, such as “The Truth about Sanctification,” “The Gospel of an Angry God,” or “The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son” (Luke 15). He even spoke on Hell in “Forty Minutes in the Devil’s Workshop.”

Each crusade series also had special events such as a guest performance of country singing artist Stuart Hamblin and/or his father “Fighting Bob” or wife, Dorothy, in attendance. Also he would always have at least one day for a Children’s Rally and one or two meetings dedicated to Church loyalty night.[2]

Shuler team 1955
The team Jack Shuler had in Wichita was Don DeVos, music director (standing, left), Sam Allred, tenor vocalist (sitting, left), and Bob Anderson, keyboardist (sitting, right).

The day after the opening crusade the Wichita Beacon ran an article describing the experience. It read as follows.

Crusade for Christ is Opened

Wichita Beacon, Monday, January 4, 1954

The city-wide Crusade for Christ began Sunday afternoon at the Arcadia Theater with 1,600 people in attendance. Another 1,200 attended the evening meeting.

John Stevens, Wichita layman and chairman of the Crusade [later mayor of Wichita] opened the afternoon service in prayer and introduced the Jack Shuler party.

With Bob Anderson, organist of the Shuler party at the console of the electric organ, song leader Don DeVos led the congregation and crusade choir in the singing of revival songs. Sam Allred, lyric tenor, won the hearts of the people as he sang several solo numbers.

In the first sermon of the campaign, Evangelist Jack Shuler emphasized that the method isn’t the important thing after all – it is the experience that counts! “If 50 people came here today and advocated 50 different ways they found Christ, I’d not discount one of them. I’d ask them if they repented of their sins, believed in Christ, received the witness of His Holy Spirit, and were living the life. If they said ‘Yes’ on all counts, I’d give them the right hand of Christian fellowship.”

Shuler went on to say: “I do not advocate the abolition of denominations! … No one denomination could satisfy all people! … God has raised up all sorts of people …” The conclusion to which he led was that the co-operating denominations in this campaign all give the same answer, which is the only answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” In the words: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

“It is necessary to get all denominations to work together to this great end,” said Shuler.

At the evening service, Shuler preached on “The Saga of the Forgotten Man,” which was a portrayal of the life of Christ. He called upon all present to crown Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, in their lives.

Shuler will preach on “Our Atomic Future” Monday night at the Arcadia. Tuesday night will be Church Loyalty night, and the Crusade will move to West High School auditorium for this one service. Tuesday night the subject will be “The Truth about the Holy Spirit.” Wednesday night, when the service moves back to the Arcadia, he will preach on “The Truth about Sanctification.”

Many pastors were present thru out the audience at both services as the meetings are being sponsored by the Wichita churches.

The same day, the Beacon ran an editorial by Shuler. In it Shuler summarized what he saw as major problems facing America. He concluded as follows:

“… Today a third of earth’s population lies enmeshed in the web of a false ideology known as Communism. America’s only sure defense lies not in super bombs and rocket planes, but in the unyielding propagation of the true Christian ideal. Ideologies, false and true, must come to grips upon the battlefield of absolute righteousness. Only so can the false be subdued and the true enjoy worldwide fulfillment.

“We can never win the world for peace so long as we hide our light under a bushel. The promulgation of our gospel is expedient to the quest for international freedom. It is a paramount reason why Christians everywhere must join the crusade to re-establish our original faith in God and the Bible. It has become a matter of revival for survival.”

Shortly after Jack Shuler’s Wichita crusade, his brother, Phil, visited Wichita High School East. The school paper ran the following article:

Evangelist Shuler Visits Bible Club

The Messenger (East High) February 12, 1954

By Lyndon Drew

Evangelist Phil Shuler and his soloist and choral director, Eddie Dunn, presented the program in Bible Club last Friday morning.

Students who attended the recent Crusade for Christ revival meetings at the Forum may remember Phil Shuler’s brother Jack, who led that revival.

Eddie Dunn is a former script writer and choral director for NBC-TV in Hollywood where he worked for three years after World War II. After he was converted he began traveling with the Shuler brothers and is now with Phil Shuler.

Shuler Modesto 1954

Within two weeks after the Wichita crusade, Jack Shuler was planning his next one, which was to take place in Modesto, California starting March 21, 1954, and continuing through April 11. Six weeks before the crusade The Modesto Bee ran an article as follows:

Evangelistic Drive Plans Will Be Made

Modesto Bee, February 6, 1954

Plans will be made Monday morning at 10 o’clock for the Dr. Jack Shuler evangelistic campaign which will visit Modesto in the near future.

Cooperating ministers from Modesto will meet at the United Brethren in Christ Church,. Jefferson and Pine Streets, Monday. More than 40 churches and organizations have indicated support in the citywide effort.

Interested persons are invited to attend the planning meeting, which will include the appointment of committees and other important preliminary work by Buford Karraker, director of the Modesto area Youth for Christ, who will act as temporary chairman.

The day before the Modesto, California crusade, the local paper ran an article in anticipation of it. The article gave a flavor of what participants could expect.

Modesto Bee, March 20, 1954

Shuler Revival Campaign Will Be Started Tomorrow

The Greater Modesto Crusade For Christ revival will start tomorrow at 2:30 pm in a large heated tent at the municipal ball part.

It will be conducted by Dr. Jack Shuler and his three-man evangelistic team of Don DeVos, Bob Anderson and Sam Allred.

Churches Cooperate

A large number of Modesto churches are cooperating with the meeting which will be held Sundays at 2:30 pm and each night at 7:30 o’clock, tomorrow through April 11th.

Dr. Shuler’s topics for tomorrow are Who’s Telling the Truth? for the afternoon, and Killing Giants for the evening.

The King’s Heralders trumpet trio will play tomorrow afternoon.

DeVos, who leads singing and directs the choir for the Shuler team, plans for a choir of 350 voices at each meeting during the campaign. Persons who can be at the tent tomorrow at 2 pm and sing part music are welcome to participate in the choir. The singers are to be at the tent 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after each service thereafter. Allred is an Irish lyric tenor soloist. Clayton Galloway, music chairman, requests all interested in singing in the choir to telephone 4-2626 and give their names. A nursery for babies and young children, managed by graduate nurses, will be maintained in the National Guard Armory just south of the tent.

Anderson plays organ and piano accompaniment for the meetings. He is said to play both instruments at the same time.

Wilbur Grant, chairman of the executive committee, said:

“In college, Jack Shuler was recognized as an outstanding athlete and dramatic actor. He received trophies as a quarter mile runner and was a consistent 60 minute player on the gridiron. “A Hollywood concern offered him an opportunity for starring roles in pictures, but he refused. Today he is one of the most gifted young preachers in America.

Many Attend

“Thousands are enjoying his dramatic gospel preaching in great citywide crusades for Christ. In the recent Los Angeles crusade, 350 churches cooperated with a record-breaking attendance of 120,000.”

The meetings here have been given wide publicity in newspapers and through radio broadcasts. Printed information on the revival has been distributed and each telephone number in Modesto was called.

The first day of the crusade, the local paper announced that popular singer Stuart Hamblen would show up with Shuler. The article said the following.

Shuler, Hamblen Slate Program

Modesto Bee, March 21, 1954

Jack Shuler and Stuart Hamblen will appear in the municipal baseball park Thursday night at 8 o’clock to give a program of testimony and music.

Last April 12th Hamblen attracted more than 5,000 in one of the biggest religious rallies ever held in Modesto. There will be no admission charge, and the public is invited to attend.

The crusade took place from Sunday, March 21 through Sunday, April 11, 1954 and was sponsored by 60 churches. The local paper kept tabs of the goings on as follows.

Shuler ch 6_7_a

Shuler Calls For Change in Attitude Toward God

Modesto Bee, March 24, 1954

Evangelist Dr. Jack Shuler last night predicted destruction for America, perhaps in the present generation, unless there comes a basic change in the overall American attitude toward God.

An estimated 1,300 persons heard him preach in one of the revival meetings his team is presenting in the Greater Modesto Crusade For Christ in a tent at the municipal ballpark…

“The primary weakness of the Christian church in America today is the impotence of its members in the prayer chamber,” he said. … The Bible is a huge collection of promises which God has made to those who will be persistent in prayer. The lack of the contemporary church lies, not in a meager desire for God’s blessing, but rather in a stubborn resistance to the command of God which asks for the whole life. Power in prayer and the accompanying blessing come only when the individual receives Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and recognizes the claims of God upon his life.”

His topic for 7:30 o’clock tonight is The Truth about The Holy Ghost. The revival will last through April 11th with meetings at 7:30 pm Mondays through Saturdays and at 2:30 and 7:30 pm on Sundays.

A large number of Modesto churches are cooperating in the revival. The public is invited to attend.

Jack Shuler’s understanding of the Holy Spirit allowed him to preach on it and the human conscience interchangeably when giving his sermon, “America’s Foremost Evangelist.” Whether it was God convicting a person or the person’s conscience working seemed to be difficult to distinguish. A newspaper article reflected this.

Modesto Bee, March 25, 1954

Evangelist Cites Importance Of Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is more important in the life of a person born anew in Christ than the average Christian realizes. Evangelist Dr. Jack Shuler said this last night speaking to approximately 1,500 persons at the Greater Modesto Crusade for Christ revival in a tent at the municipal ballpark.

Guards Against Satan

“It is the Holy Spirit,” he said, “who guards the new Christian from fresh onslaughts by Satan and guides his path into new understandings of faith. The Holy Spirit is the Power who lends meaning to the preaching of the Bible and makes its teachings pierce deeply into the hearts of believer and nonbeliever alike.

The Holy Spirit bears witness in the hearts of all persons concerning the things which they should or should not do, and at all times urges that men recognize the claims of Jesus Christ.

“The Holy Spirit follows many men away from a service of preaching and brings mounting misery until a decision to receive Christ has been reached. And when a man knows the Lord, it is the Holy Spirit who brings joy to drive away sorrow or pain and provides comfort in any time of distress.

Vindicates Actions

“When men falsely accuse one of God’s servants, it is the Holy Spirit who in the end vindicates his actions and reveals the wicked intent of the one who has lied.

“The Holy Spirit is capable of teaching God’s will to those who are willing to sit as humble pupils. But the Holy Spirit never teaches in such a way that the Bible is contradicted. The man who is Spirit-filled always is a man of God’s word, the Bible, and finds his power, not in the tricks and arts of men, but in the might of the God who answers prayers.

Dr. Shuler’s message tonight will be The Truth About Sanctification. He speaks each night at 7:30 o’clock. The public is invited.

In July, Shuler took time to attend and speak at Youth for Christ International’s 10th annual convention at Winona Lake, Indiana. An article in the local paper reported as follows:

Former Henchman for Mickey Cohen to address YFC

Warsaw Times-Union, July 12, 1954

Jim Vaus, one-time henchman and wiretapper for mobster Mickey Cohen, will speak this evening as the second week of the Youth for Christ International’s tenth annual convention gets underway at Winona Lake…[Held July 5-17, 1954]

Other headline speakers at night sessions this week will include Dr. Torrey M. Johnson, founder and first president of Youth for Christ International; Dr. Robert A. Cook, illustrious president of YFCI; Hubert Mitchell, YFCI foreign secretary; Dr. Bob Pierce, missionary statesman; and Jack Shuler, nationally known evangelist.

Pat James remembered a time in 1954 when Jack Shuler held a crusade in Ponca City, Oklahoma. She was a 13-year-old who attended one of Shuler’s Children’s Rallies. She recalled her experience as follows:

Not only was our family faithful to our Church of God services, but we also enjoyed going to revivals or meetings at other churches. Naturally, we got very excited when we heard that the Jack Shuler evangelistic team was going to be coming to our very city to hold a two-week city-wide revival in 1954.

Jack Shuler was a preacher not unlike Billy Graham in the 40’s and 50’s, with about the same degree of popularity at that time, and we all wanted to go to the meetings. Dad was an usher, Mom singing the choir, and I hid out in the balcony, trying to cover my 13-year-old head with a scarf since I had attempted to trim my own bangs. I had trimmed and trimmed and trimmed, and my mom had eventually had to take me to the beauty shop to get a very unbecoming “boy-cut” that made some girls actually look cute. I was not one of them.

My four-year-old brother Mike’s big day came on Saturday when the Jack Shuler’s evangelistic team had a kids’ rally. Mom and I took Mike, but we arrived too late to sit together. Mom, probably with precognition, sat alone and let me sit with Mike.

As part of the children’s service, and in order to have more audience participation, the leader-person played a holy version of “Name that Tune.” Wheezing out the first few notes of a chorus, the organist would pause and the audience would scream out the title. The child with the loudest voice would receive a prize. The songs were familiar to the 1950’s church crowd. They were songs like “I’ve Got the Joy,” “The B-I-B-L-E,” and “Do, Lord.”

The section where Mike and I had found seats was center left. We tried very hard to get Mikey noticed by the myopic leader-person but to no avail. Finally, the game was winding down, and we were getting desperate for a prize for the little fellow. This time the prize was going to be huge. It was a pair of roller skates. They probably even came with an actual key and did not have to be attached to your shoes by having your dad tighten them with pliers. All the people around us saw Mike’s eyes light up and wanted to help us.

Feverishly, our section began conniving. As soon as the notes would sound, they would point excitedly at cute little Mike as I fed him the correct answer. In our intense scheming, we did not listen to all of the directions. In the dimly lit auditorium, the first six notes of a song were played on the organ. Instantly I knew that the chorus was “Every Day with Jesus!” I whispered the answer to Mike while the sympathetic group of supportive strangers pointed to him and shouted, “Over here!”

Success at last! He was chosen to come to the stage. But as Mike and I approached the bright lights of the Civic Center stage, we learned the rules: The final grand prize of skates could be won only by a child who could sing the entire song. We were in trouble.

They pulled tiny Mikey into the spotlight. The man asked his name. He gave his real name and the correct song title. Then the man asked Mike to sing the song. The organ gave him a few bars for an introduction. “Every day with Jesus,” he sang and then stopped. A bewildered Mike began to look even smaller on the cavernous stage. I hung in the shadows, trying to hide my teenage angst and my nearly bald head as he began again.

“Every day with Jesus…” He paused. He began again.

“Every day with Jesus…” His voice trailed off, and I desperately wanted off the big stage.

“Let’s try that again,” encouraged the happy, yet merciless, man with the microphone.

“Every day with Jesus…”

I sent mental telepathy to him. “Come on, Mike, sing, ‘is sweeter than the day before.’” He didn’t get my message.

“I’m sorry, son, you had to sing the entire song to win the skates.” He sent us ignominiously and skate-less from the stage.

On the way back to our sympathetic group of supportive strangers, we passed by one lady who wouldn’t make eye contact with us. Gladys Coate covered her eyes with a bulletin, knowing that the “loser” might burst into tears if he saw his mother.

We left the Civic Center, having watched some big ol’ kid win the skates. But we didn’t go straight home. We had one more stop to make…to the toy store…to buy skates…proving once again that “Every day with Jesus IS sweeter than the day before.”

http://mychog.ning.com/profiles/blogs/citywide-revival-and-roller

At the beginning of 1955, Shuler held crusades in Florida. In St. Petersburg, Shuler held a unique event. The event, which took place at the end of January, included an evangelist alongside Shuler. Instead of heading the event alone (with his team), he combined the event with that of Belfast, Ireland evangelist Jack Cochran and musician Les Barnett. (Barnett was a famous musician who had performed with Rudy Vallee). Barnett performed on Monday, January 24.

Advertised as “America’s Most Dramatic Evangelist,” Shuler told of his recent activity, saying, “Just concluded campaign in Orlando with 70,000 in attendance.” He also mentioned that he would be having Les Barnett perform a piano and organ concert on January 24. Barnett, the ad said, had been with CBS and Rudy Vallee.[3] 3 An article ran after his sermon on the 25th as follows:

Los Angles Evangelist Begins Revival ‘Crusade’

St. Petersburg Times, January 26, 1955

… Jack Shuler, young evangelist from Los Angeles, yesterday opened a series of revival meetings at Northeast High School auditorium as part of the current Christ for St. Petersburg Crusade.

Here from Orlando, Shuler spoke last night on “Our Atomic Future.” He declared that we are where Russia was 20 years ago. Since 1918, Communists have multiplied by 20,000 percent, he said.

Only divine intervention can save this nation, he declared. America has three choices: 1. Drop the atom bomb; 2. Wait for it to be thrown at us; 3. Go to our knees, get right with God and merit divine intervention.

Shuler will preach at Northeast High auditorium today through Friday at 7:30 p.m. and will conclude his visit here with a giant rally at the high school Sunday at 3 p.m.

Shuler, before turning to evangelism, was in Hollywood films.

The Christ for St. Petersburg Crusade is interdenominational and is sponsored jointly by Youth for Christ and the Christian Business Men’s Committee.[4]

During the St. Petersburg crusade, the local paper reported on one of the sermons Shuler would preach fairly regularly. It remained a current events topic throughout the fifties.

Shuler To X-Ray Kinsey Report At City’s Crusade

St. Petersburg Times, January 29, 1955

“The Kinsey Report (What Kinsey Left Out)” will be the subject Jack Shuler, evangelist, will highlight tomorrow when the Christ for St. Petersburg Crusade gathers at 3 p.m. at Northeast High School auditorium, Sixteenth Street and Fifty-fourth Avenue North.

In order to accommodate the crowd Shuler has attracted during his appearances here, there will be an additional meeting tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium.

Shuler began his ministry nearly 16 years ago and has conducted city-wide campaigns in most of the major cities in this country. He has preached to approximately 100,000 persons in the Hollywood Bowl.

Shuler offers a new kind of preaching, using dramatic presentations of the Scripture to make his words more forceful. His energetic movements made the stand microphone unstable and on the second night a lapel microphone had to be brought to accommodate his constant action.

Jack Cochrane of Belfast, Ireland, began the first week of the Crusade in Northside Methodist Church. Les Barnett or Hollywood, Calif., appearing with many top flight motion picture stars before going into religious work, provided music for the Crusade.

Ron Fisher, Northside Methodist music director, leads the congregational singing.

Guests on the Crusade program have been Ernie Tartler, pianist; the Girls Trio from Trinity College; At Tedder, tenor, Jane Fromer, soprano, and Johnny Woodhouse, local Youth for Christ director.

The Rev. Leonard DeLautre, pastor of Northside Methodist, is Crusade chairman.

Christian Business Men’s Committee and Youth for Christ are cooperating sponsors.

In February, 1955, Shuler held a three-week crusade in Hutchinson, Kansas. An article in the local paper described the event that took place from February 6 through 27.

One of God’s “Chosen Six” Opens 3 Weeks Campaign

Hutchinson News-Herald, Monday, February 7, 1955

A handsome young ex-actor, whose preacher ancestors date back to John Wesley and Martin Luther, currently is crusading for souls at Hutchinson’s Arena. The Rev. Dr. Jack Shuler (“I prefer to be called just Jack”) opened his 21-day evangelistic crusade here Sunday. He is sponsored by the Hutchinson Crusade for Christ, Rev. Oscar Matthews, Hadley Methodist Church, chairman.

No “fly-by-night” sawdust savior, Shuler has a well-organized approach to the conversion of sinners.

“We’re not in competition with the local churches,” he explains. “We’re cooperating with them. We want to help them get new members and get more religious activity out of their present members.”

This non-denominational approach was testified to Sunday when 42 local ministers sat on the Arena stage with the evangelist.

“Of course we’re a Protestant movement,” Shuler says, “But we welcome Catholics and Jews – and we have some attend. We don’t alter our message for them, but we don’t embarrass them either.”

Shuler describes himself as an old-time religion evangelist “after the order of Billy Graham. God has picked out about half dozen of us,” he says.

The evangelist describes his objective as “trying to pull America back to its foundations. This country was built on the Bible. Our basic truths are taken from the Sermon on the Mount.

But he says this saving of the country can be done only “if we can touch individuals. We must prove to them it is more important to elect Christ than to elect Eisenhower or Stevenson.”

To this task, the 36-year-old black-haired preacher who looks younger and dresses with California informality, brings the combined talents of political campaigner, accomplished actor, and old-time apostle. …

Shuler, born in Texas, lived most of his life in California where his father Rev. R.P. Shuler was pastor for 32 years of Trinity Methodist Church and a controversial radio preacher. The elder Shuler, now 74, still preaches, as does as does Jack’s grandfather, J.W.W. Shuler, also a Methodist minister in Hillsboro, Tex.

“I come from an unbroken line of six generations of Methodist preachers,” Shuler says. “One of my ancestors left the Anglican church with John Wesley, another was with [Martin] Luther. I guess the Shulers have always been rebels.

Shuler explains that he, too, was a rebel. A promising young actor at Whittier College in Los Angeles, he was screen-tested and offered contracts by various Hollywood studios. His strict father forbade his going to work in sinful Hollywood and Jack, a minor, had to obey.

“I broke with my family and didn’t care about religion,” he admits. He lived for the day when at 21, he could sign a movie contract. But in the meantime he went east to Bob Jones College at Cleveland, Tennessee to study Shakespearean acting at the religiously-oriented school. “I was converted,” he says simply. “I decided to move my dramatic abilities over to the pulpit and work for Christ.”

Shuler, who is married to the one-time beauty queen of Whittier College, whose picture he proudly displays, and who has four children, spends most of his time on the road.

International Crusade

During the middle of June, Jack Shuler decided to try something he had never done. He planned his first crusade in another country. The Los Angeles Times (June 4, 1955) ran an article covering this. The lede said, “Dr. Jack MacArthur of Glendale and Jack Shuler, Southland evangelist, will team up for a Belfast [Ireland] revival crusade this month.” The June 12 issue of that paper said, “Evangelist Jack Shuler of Arcadia left with a team of nine last week for Belfast, Ireland, where they will open a month-long crusade backed by 300 churches.”

Jack ended up having a highly productive crusade and would make a newsreel of the event that he would show to future audiences in other crusades. At that time it looked like he would have many more opportunities for crusades outside the United States, but for some reason, this never materialized.

1955_Shuler in Ireland - Pic only_j

BELFAST HEARS U.S. EVANGELIST

Picture courtesy Jeanette (MacArthur) DeAngelis – Jack MacArthur’s daughter (caption) [June 15, 1955 in Belfast, Ireland] The Prime Minister Viscount Brookeborough, received Dr. Jack Shuler and members of his King’s Hall Crusade team at Parliament Buildings yesterday afternoon. In the photograph (from left) are: Mr. Norman Porter, M.P.; Dr. J. MacArthur, Mr. W.J. Morgan, M.P.; Mr. Harry Midgley, M.P., Minister of Education; Dr. Shuler, Lord Brookeborough, Mr. Brian McConnell, M.P., and Mr. Brian Faulkner, M.P. Also in the photograph are Mr. Henry Holmes, M.P. and Mr. Don DeVos.

A Maryland paper ran an article reporting the event, receiving the information from another press. It article opened as follows:

Shuler Takes Cue From Billy Graham In His Crusade

The Sun – Baltimore, Md, June 15, 1955

Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 14 – Jack Shuler, American evangelist, taking his cue from Billy Graham, has moved into Belfast with a team of hymn singing, guitar-playing assistants for a month’s crusade…

After the crusade, Jack MacArthur was to report the event to his church members. He pastored a church in Glendale, California. (See Los Angeles Times, July 16, 1955, A3, page 1).

______________

[1] On this subject, see also 1 Tim 4:12. Jack Shuler emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit in his preaching. It showed up between 1952 when Shuler’s first book came out and the middle 50s when he regularly preached on “The World’s Greatest Evangelist” or “America’s Foremost Evangelist.”

His book of short sermons included one sermon on “Earth’s Greatest Preacher.” Here he used Hebrews 13:18 as his text and spoke on one’s conscience. Other times he used similar titles to speak on the Holy Spirit..

In his book, he ended this sermon by saying, “Taught by the Holy Spirit, directed by the Word of Almighty God, the preachments of conscience are truth and his pronouncements binding. Let him have his way. No man has ever successfully resisted him.” (Jack Shuler’s Short Sermons, 88).

Shuler knew that conscience, according to Scripture, is not always a reliable guide. Shuler realized conscience itself could be stifled. As Paul said, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”

Torrey Johnson, who knew as much or more about evangelists of the 40s and 50s as anyone, remembered Jack Shuler’s sermons in the 50s. What he remembered most was the one on “the world’s greatest evangelist” or “America’s greatest evangelist” or “America’s greatest preacher” or whatever title attracted people’s attention most. All led the same direction.
In a 1984 interview with Robert Shuster, Johnson spoke of this sermon:

Shuster: When you say [Jack Shuler was] a good promoter, what do you mean?

Johnson: …For his campaigns, he had certain devices by which to attract crowds of people. For instance, …he had one sermon entitled “The Greatest Preacher that Ever Lived.” At the time he was preaching that sermon… he said, “Tomorrow night, the greatest preacher of all time will be here.” People then thought he was referring to Billy Graham. So they would come on the second night, expecting to see Billy Graham. Actually, he talked about the Holy Spirit, and He is come. He will convict you of sin and so on. (Torrey Maynard Johnson, interview by Robert Shuster. Collection 285, T4 Wheaton, Illinois: Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, (February 13, 1984). http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/trans/285t04.htm )

[2] See Appendix D for details about Wichita crusade.

[3] St. Petersburg Times, January 24, 1955.

[4] St. Petersburg Times, January 26, 1955.

The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist Chapter 8

1956 and after

In 1956, Jack Shuler held a 15-day crusade in Madera, California. (Madera is south of Modesto and north of Fresno.)  The crusade went from Sunday, January 28 through Monday, February 12, 1956. The local paper ran the following article.

Madera Revival to enter Second Week

Madera Tribune, February 4, 1956

More than 7,000 people have attended the Jack Shuler Revival Crusade thus far, and hundreds of extra chairs are ready for the weekend services in anticipation of overflow crowds. Not since 1911 has such a large-scale interchurch crusade been attempted by so many Madera area churches.

Thirty-six pastors are giving full cooperation and support, and decisions are mounting into the hundreds. Hatfield Hall at the fairgrounds has been comfortably heated, and a choir loft erected to accommodate 140 voices in addition to the 1200 chairs for the audience. Delegations have consistently attended from Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto and other outlying cities to make Madera a hub for revival activities for the fifteen-day religious conclave.

Highlights of the crusade include special choral arrangements sung by the interdenominational choir under the direction of Don DeVos and music interpretations by Bob Anderson who plays the Hammond Electric Organ and the piano simultaneously. Two local pastors are featured at each service during the hour and a half program which is conducted by Mr. DeVos.

Jack Shuler, whose title, “America’s Most Dramatic Evangelist” has been accorded because of his former thespian activities both on the legitimate stage and in Shakespearian acting, presents his evening messages with all the eloquence and drama of an accomplished actor. Many of the top-ranking tabloids of the nation have editorialized on Shuler, listing him among America’s evangelistic preachers as second only to the famous Billy Graham.

His preaching drew 400,000 people in Belfast, Ireland this past June, and his final crowd there at Windsor Stadium numbered 57,000 and was given recognition internationally by INS. It was at this gathering that DeVos conducted a trained choir of 7,000 voices, the largest rehearsed choir in religious history. Additions to the churches of Belfast ran in excess of 4,000 during the month’s crusade.

The Rev. D. Glen Cordell, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church and chairman of the crusade in Madera has announced the schedule of meetings and subjects for the weekend. On Saturday night, Shuler will dramatize the story of Sampson and Delilah. Sunday afternoon at 2:30 the evangelist’s subject will be “Hollywood Religion,” and at 7:30 he will present an address on “The Unveiled Cross.

Banners for all the churches have been prepared for Monday evening when another “Church Loyalty Night” is being planned, and two red leather-bound Bibles will be presented to the pastors of the churches having the best attendance.

The Shuler team is scheduled to conduct similar crusades of two and three weeks’ duration in Little Rock, Memphis, Atlanta, Spokane, Erie, and other major cities this year. Last week a committee representing the churches of Cardiff, Wales traveled to Oklahoma to meet with the team and extend them an invitation to conduct a four-week crusade in Cardiff at their first available open date. They also have standing invitations to go to Manila, Seoul, Tokyo, Dublin, Liverpool, and other points of the world.

Services will continue at Hatfield Hall throughout next week and will conclude on Sunday evening. Feb. 12. All seats are free, and there is plenty of free parking for all. The Crusade Committee

Nixon_Shuler2
Jack Shuler with Vice President Richard Nixon in 1956. They were once classmates at Whittier College in California.

Many other of Jack Shuler’s preaching series throughout his career in the United States have left little evidence. It may never be fully known all the places he visited on his continuing tour of American cities. Another crusade toward the end of 1956, however, did leave some information. From Sunday, September 9 through 30 (22-days) he held a crusade in the state of Washington. It followed the pattern of many of his previous evangelism campaigns. His team stayed the same with Don DeVos, Bob Anderson, and Sam Allred backing him.

 

The news media ran a number of stories on the Washington crusade. The day after its opening, a Spokane paper reported what took place.

Shuler ‘Acted’ Himself Into Ministry

Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 10, 1956

Once the “black sheep” of his family, the Rev. Jack Shuler, evangelist, literally “acted” himself into the ministry, he said here today. Mr. Shuler opened a three-week Spokane evangelist campaign yesterday in the Coliseum under sponsorship of the Christ for Greater Spokane committee.

“My dad wanted me to be a preacher, but I didn’t even want to go to church when I was a youth,” Mr. Shuler said in an interview today. “I was converted while doing a vesper play, ‘Barabbas,’ which portrays the robber who was released in place of Christ, who was crucified. “Religion has sickened me prior to that, but the gospel came to me so forcefully as I acted the part of Barabbas that I could no longer resist.”

Dr. Shuler, whose home is in Arcadia, Calif., began training as a lawyer when he first attended Whittier college and later he planned to become an actor. Despite his earlier aversion to religion, his entry into the ministry is not too surprising. He’s the sixth consecutive generation of Methodist ministers in the Shuler family and two of his brothers also are ministers. His 77-year-old father, the Rev. Bob Shuler of Los Angeles, and his 97-year-old grandfather, the Rev. J.W. Shuler of Hillsboro, both are preaching. His grandfather is retired, but he continues to do supply work.

The handsome 37-year-old evangelist is a native of Texas but was reared in California. The father of four, he said today he had one child when he entered the ministry and four when he got his seminary degree in 1948.

He described Spokane’s Coliseum as “the most beautiful building of its kind” in which he’d held evangelistic meetings. Approximately 2500 persons attended opening services yesterday afternoon. A 300-voice choir, directed by Don DeVos, sang.

Other articles followed. One reported on his Loyalty night crowd, which happened to be one the most popular events in his crusades.

Fourth Church Tops

Spokane Daily Chronicle [Washington], September 18, 1956

Fourth Presbyterian church, with a total of 470 in attendance, and Airway Community church, with the largest percentage of membership present, took top awards at the “Church Loyalty Night” observance at the Shuler meeting last night in the Coliseum.

Fifty-nine churches had official delegations with banners at the meeting. Attendance was approximately 3700.

Shuler sometimes held ministerial meetings. In them, he would advise fellow ministers in their work in the church. Usually, he emphasized prayer.

Ministers Hear Talk by Shuler

Spokane Daily Chronicle [Washington], September 18, 1956

Ministers need to be “tenderized” because they’re dealing with immortal souls, Evangelist Jack Shuler today told fellow clergymen attending the Spokane County Ministerial meeting. The Rev. Neal C. Dirkse of Bethel Church of the Nazarene, president of the county group, presided at the first fall meeting today at First Presbyterian church.

Evangelist Shuler, of Arcadia, Calif., is leading a three-week evangelistic series in the Coliseum. Total attendance for the first nine days is 19,700, leaders said.

Speaking to the ministers today, Mr. Shuler said: “We’ll never have a genuine revival in America until we have a revival of broken hearts and real genuine tears on the part of the clergy.” He referred to the coming general election and urged ministers to get their people out to hear both parties. “God is interested in the outcome or our election,” he said, “for we’ll lose everything near and dear to us if we don’t have the right people in office, and be in danger of losing all our liberties.”

Mr. Shuler said the church has some faults, “which are man’s, not God’s, but despite her weaknesses, the church still is the greatest institution under the sun.”

Shuler continued to preach some of his favorite sermons since they brought out his best skills. Bible characters provided some of the best material for his abilities. The audience certainly noticed that. And reporters did too.

Evangelist Does Portrayals of Characters in the Bible

Spokane Daily Chronicle [Washington], September 18, 1956

Dramatic portrayal of Biblical characters, including Samson, Delilah, David and Bathsheba, were presented by Evangelist Jack Shuler in meetings over the weekend in the Coliseum. Evangelist Shuler, whose home is in Arcadia, Calif., is leading a three-week series of evangelistic meetings at the Coliseum under sponsorship of the Christ for Greater Spokane committee.  Sunday’s meeting, the second Sunday afternoon session, drew Evangelist Shuler’s largest crowd, 5000, said the Rev. Robert H. Gibbs, committee chairman. Saturday night he addressed a crowd of 3000.

“Devil Is Working”

“In the nature of every man, woman, boy or girl, there is a weakness and I know the devil is working away at that spot,” he said. “Samson, who was God’s man, had just one weakness, he liked pretty girls… He was intoxicated with that beautiful girl, Delilah.” Delilah learned the secret of Samson’s strength, which lay in his hair, and then had him shorn and later has his eyes put out, Shuler recalled.

“Sin blinds,” Shuler said. “Carbolic acid can kill the body, but things of the world can kill the soul. Sin also blinds, but Jesus Christ can break the habits of sin. Sin also grinds, as it did when Samson found himself grinding away in the grist mill. “God’s judgment isn’t always immediate, but it is inevitable. Your sins have a way of trailing you and you’re going to have to pay every premium with interest.

The local paper continued to follow Shuler’s crusade. Reporters noticed that Jack Shuler’s preaching kept attracting more and more people. And this in turn changed the mood and thinking of a large portion of the people living in this Washington suburban area. In the middle of this crusade the paper published the following article.

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Sept 22, 1956

Shuler Crusade Continues at Coliseum

Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 25, 1956

Religion has become a major attraction in Spokane, with the city-wide Crusade for Christ with Dr. Jack Shuler entering its third week in Spokane’s nationally famous Coliseum. By Sunday night 42,500 had come to hear “America’s Most Dramatic Evangelist,” and over 1800 decisions had been recorded – persons who were personally dealt with by carefully trained counselors.

Dr. Shuler, who turned down offers from Hollywood film studios to enter the ministry, masterfully combines an evangelistic zeal with a tremendous dramatic ability. The actor-turned-preacher has thrilled his audience by throwing himself into portrayals of Samson and Delilah, and dramatizations of the Life of Christ, and the Crucifixion.

Saturday afternoon Shuler exposed “fakes” among so-called Christians in the cinema capital in a power-packed message entitled, “Hollywood Religion.” Monday night was “Church Loyalty Night,” with Shuler speaking on “40 Minutes in the Devil’s Workshop.”

Tonight Dr. Shuler will tell of “My Penitentiary Experience.” Wednesday at 7:30, it will be, “The Truth About the Unpardonable Sin.” The Crusade is enthusiastically praised by local ministers sponsoring the event.

Another favorite of his campaigns centered on children. This event, as shown above, proved to be highly popular not only with the children, but with the parents who attended with them.

Shuler Youth Session Today

Spokesman-Review, September 22, 1956

“Hollywood Religion” One of Week-End Topics

A “kids’ rally” at 10 a.m. today in the Coliseum will be a special feature of weekend services planned by Dr. Jack Shuler, California evangelist who is preaching there nightly under the sponsorship of 100 area churches. The rally will be open to those of all ages, but activities and awards are planned for those 16 and under. Merchants have donated awards for youngsters who have invited the greatest number to the rally.

There will be a talent show and “stop the music” contest with special awards for the winners. Every child attending will receive two small gifts. In charge of the rally will be Don DeVos, master of ceremonies. Dr. Shuler will deliver a brief message. Chairman of the “kids’ rally” is the Rev. Roger Wiganosky, pastor of Minnehaha Covenant church.

Topic Tonight

“The Hydrogen Bomb – the Return of Christ – the End of the World” will be Dr. Shuler’s topic at 7:30 tonight. Sunday there will be two services. At 3 p.m. Dr. Shuler will speak on “Hollywood Religion.” He states he will expose the fakes in the film capital without making remarks that will hurt anyone. “The Unveiled Cross” will be Dr. Shuler’s topic at 7:30 p.m. This will be a dramatized story of the crucifixion. It is expected that the Coliseum audience will reach capacity proportions tomorrow night, said an official of the crusade committee.

Dr. Shuler will preach each evening next week at 7:30, with services at 3 and 7:30 p.m. next Sunday to climax his three-week crusade here. Monday night will be another “church loyalty night” when members of the various congregations will rally behind placards bearing the names of their churches, much as state delegations do at national political conventions.

5500 Attend Youth Crusade

Spokesman-Review, September 26, 1956

Spokane’s Coliseum was ringing to the rafters Saturday morning as 5500 youth turned out for the rollicking “Kid’s Rally” conducted by genial Don DeVos, master of ceremonies and song leader for the city-wide Crusade for Christ with Dr. Jack Shuler. Awards were given for winners in a talent show and a “Stop the Music” contest. Two boys each received a new bicycle for bringing the largest number to the rally. One had invited 139 and the other 88.

Using a modern real-life parable, Dr. Shuler brought a challenging message in the younger set, on their level. In response, 1006 youth came forward and were personally dealt with by thoroughly trained counselors. Complete details on each child were formulated and sent to each “seeker’s” pastor. If no church affiliation was indicated by the youth, a pastor near his home was notified.

In response to a reporter’s question, “How young do you think a child can make an intelligent religious decision?” one of the sponsoring pastors explained that it depends “upon the child, his background, and many other factors. Some great spiritual leaders of this and former generations,” he continued, “insist that theirs was a ‘child conversion’ as young as five or six years of age.” The pastor told the reporter that his own conversion had been at the age of “ten or twelve.”

Meanwhile, the interdenominational evangelistic Crusade continued in its third week, the longest single stand in the Coliseum’s history. Monday night Dr. Shuler gave a stirring description of hell in the message, “40 Minutes in the Devil’s Workshop.” Last night he told of “My Penitentiary Experience” before his conversion.

Tonight Shuler will speak of “The Unpardonable Sin,” in which he promises to prove that no living person has committed it. Bob Anderson, “poet of the keyboards,” who plays the piano and organ simultaneously, will be featured in an unusual number entitled “A Trip Around the World.” The Crusade will conclude Sunday night at 7:30.

The Shuler crusade often used their own ads to promote the events. For example, they used the following.

Shuler Crusade Continues at Coliseum

Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 25, 1956

Religion has become a major attraction in Spokane, with the city-wide Crusade for Christ with Dr. Jack Shuler entering its third week in Spokane’s nationally famous Coliseum. By Sunday night 42,500 had come to hear “America’s Most Dramatic Evangelist,” and over 1800 decisions had been recorded – persons who were personally dealt with by carefully trained counselors.

Dr. Shuler, who turned down offers from Hollywood film studios to enter the ministry, masterfully combines an evangelistic zeal with a tremendous dramatic ability. The actor-turned-preacher has thrilled his audience by throwing himself into portrayals of Samson and Delilah, and dramatizations of the Life of Christ, and the Crucifixion.

Saturday afternoon Shuler exposed “fakes” among so-called Christians in the cinema capital in a power-packed message entitled, “Hollywood Religion.” Monday night was “Church Loyalty Night,” with Shuler speaking on “40 Minutes in the Devil’s Workshop.”

Tonight Dr. Shuler will tell of “My Penitentiary Experience.” Wednesday at 7:30, it will be, “The Truth About the Unpardonable Sin.” The Crusade is enthusiastically praised by local ministers sponsoring the event.

Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 25, 1956

By the time the Washington crusade was drawing to a close, even the news media realized the unusual effect Shuler’s preaching had on the community. Larger crowds and more serious people than had occurred previously seemed to show a real change in the entire community. Before the series ended, Shuler again featured his wife’s attendance and a performance of Stuart Hamblen. The news media told the story in several articles.

Evangelist’s Wife Arrives; Doesn’t See Husband Often

Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 28, 1956

“The main reason I can stand the pace of his life is that his ministry is mine, too.”

Mrs. Jack Shuler, wife of the evangelist, had this to say in an interview today after appearing last night with her husband at the Coliseum. Mrs. Shuler, who is called “the sweetest Presbyterian this side of heaven” by her Methodist husband, said she seldom sees him and “I came to Spokane because I felt it was the best way to be with him a few days.”

She said she found Spokane “very pleasant after the California smog” and residents here “very friendly.” However, Mrs. Shuler said she was anxious to return to their family. They have four children, Jack Jr., 17; Susan, 13; Richard, 12, and Greg, 8. After the closing of his three-week “Crusade for Christ” here Sunday, Mr. Shuler – whom Mrs. Shuler met and married while the two were sophomores at Whittier College, Calif. – plans to return home before going on to Michigan.

Tonight Mr. Shuler said he would give a funeral sermon. He said he had never before given this type of sermon. “Saturday I will tell the story of my life including why I turned down a Hollywood contract and became a minister of the gospel, and Sunday at my 3 p.m. service I will have as a special guest America’s foremost evangelist.

Name Is Secret

Mr. Shuler said he could not divulge the evangelist’s name. The concluding service at 7:30 p.m. Sunday will have Stuart Hamblen, a personal friend and a Hollywood entertainer, as guest speaker. Mr. Shuler estimated that an average of more than 3,000 had been attending daily services this week and added that more than 100,000 had attended the crusade so far. About 2,000 have made decisions for Christ in the prayer rooms, he said.

Another ad gave some details about Shuler’s coming sermons. It also reviewed some of the past highlights.

Funeral Sermon Set

Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 28, 1956

Spokane, Sept. 28 – Rarely if ever has anyone heard his own funeral sermon. Yet Dr. Jack Shuler promises anyone attending the Coliseum tonight that you will hear “Your Funeral Sermon.” Living up to his billing as “America’s Most Dramatic Evangelist,” he has met with a tremendous response in the three-week Crusade for Christ now underway in Spokane’s famous Coliseum.

Last night a large audience saw a documentary film showing a Crusade by the Shuler team in Belfast, Ireland, in June 1955. 400,000 attended. In four weeks, the Belfast Crusade attracted 400,000. The final climaxing service saw 50,000 in attendance. The largest choir in world history brought together 6000 singers, and the Crusade reported 4200 conversions. No small attraction for the evening was Mrs. Shuler, introduced as “Dottie,” who was flown to Spokane by a friend of the family.

Dr. Shuler’s message of the evening was on the subject of “Heaven.” In dramatic and beautifully descriptive language, Shuler answered such questions as “Where are the sainted dead now?”; “Will we know each other in heaven?”; “Do those who have departed this earth observe our actions here below?” He described heaven, portraying a child of God on his deathbed, being taken through the skies by death, who has, since Christ rose from Joseph’s garden, been God’s errand boy.

To Tell Life Story

Tomorrow night, Saturday, Dr. Shuler will give his “Life Story,” in which he will tell why he turned down a Hollywood movie career for the ministry. Sunday afternoon’s service is somewhat shrouded in mystery with the announcement that the audience will hear “The greatest Evangelist in America.”

Shuler’s farewell message to Spokane will be given Sunday night at 7:30 in a service which promises to attract an overflow crowd. Special guest will be a converted cowboy singer and Hollywood entertainer, who has seen three of his Christian songs on the national “Hit Parade.” Read tomorrow’s paper for full details. Local pastors who have sponsored the Shuler Crusade have only words of praise for its results, according to General Chairman Rev. Robert Gibbs.

Already pastors are talking about the possibilities of another city-wide crusade some two years hence.

 

One of the last articles on the three-week crusade emphasized the appearance of Stuart Hamblen. Many would come to the event because of that alone.

 

Shuler to Tell His Life Story, Greet Hamblen

Spokesman-Review, September 29, 1956

The Jack Shuler Crusade for Christ will be concluded in the Coliseum this weekend. Tonight at 7:30 the California evangelist will tell his life story – why he turned down a Hollywood career to become a minister. Tomorrow at 3 p.m. his subject will be, “The World’s Greatest Evangelist.”

At the final meeting, tomorrow night at 7:30, Shuler will present the composer Stuart Hamblen. Hamblen has had quite a career. A Texas bronc buster, he went to California in his teens. He appeared in motion pictures, won seven heavyweight boxing matches, all by knockouts, ran for Congress and finally for President against Eisenhower and Stevenson. Among his songs are “I Won’t Go Huntin’ With You Jake, but I’ll Go Chasin’ Women” (before his Christian conversion) and “It is No Secret,” “Let the Sun Shine In” and “This Ol’ House.” He will sing and speak at the service tomorrow.

The Shuler rally, at its conclusion, will have lasted three weeks, for the longest booking of the Coliseum to date.

All who attended did not agree on the results, though many did. Most offered positive impression along with negative comments about the news media. One example follows.

Letters to the Editor

The Forum

Spokesman-Review, September 29, 1956

Says Journalism at All-Time Low

It seems to me that journalism in Spokane has hit an all-time low, in the treatment which has been accorded the Jack Shuler campaign. It is not necessary to tell you what a great man Jack Shuler is, for you certainly know. One hundred Protestant churches in this community are sponsoring this campaign. Unfortunately all of these people have to depend on The Spokesman-Review for current news. I pray that some other means of getting information will soon be available.

In the meantime, your paper stinks.

Greenacres, Wash. Maraline G. Hatch

Jack Shuler and Billy Graham had been friends since the early 1940s. When Graham was worn out preaching daily in his 1949 L.A. crusade, he used Shuler as a substitute one night, and the response was equal to that of Graham’s.

When Graham conducted his 1957 New York crusade, Shuler appeared at one of his services in July.[1]  This would not have been unusual except for the fact of a growing crisis between Christians who called themselves “fundamentalists” and those who supported Billy Graham. The year 1957 would be the great dividing point of the two groups.

Shuler knew some of the leaders of the “fundamentalist” group and counted them as close friends. Bob Jones and his son, Bob, Jr. were close to Jack’s dad as well as Jack himself. This was true of others, such as John R. Rice. Yet Shuler still counted Graham as a friend.

Bob Jones Sr. must either not have known about Jack’s acceptance of Billy Graham or not cared, though that would have been unlikely. An incident that happened around the time of Graham’s New York crusade showed this.

Biographer William Martin gave the most complete account of a meeting between Fundamentalist Bob Jones, Sr. and Billy Graham around the time of Graham’s New York crusade. It happened that both Bob Jones and Billy Graham were in the same hotel at the same time when Graham found out. So Graham called Jones and asked to meet with him to hopefully resolve some differences. So they met

Graham asked Jones if he could come to his room and visit him. Jones agreed. When they met, Graham told Jones he was looking great. Jones replied, “You’re on your way down, Billy.” Graham returned, “If that’s the way God wants it, then it’s settled.” The reason Jones gave for saying what he did was because “Your converts don’t last.” Graham responded, “I don’t have any converts.” He went on to explain how others did all the work and he only presented the gospel. This still didn’t sit well with Jones. He went on to say, “We’re taking over evangelism in America, Billy. Jack Shuler is going to be the man now. I know because I trained him.”[2] And so they departed having resolved nothing.

In August 1957 Shuler held a three-week crusade in Eugene, Oregon (August 4 through 25). A local paper described the first night of the event.

1400 Persons Hear Shuler Speak Sunday

Eugene Register-Guard, August 5, 1957

Jack Shuler opened his three-week “Crusade” in Eugene High School auditorium Sunday before an estimated audience of 1,400 persons.

Presiding for the opening service was Don DeVos, who also directed a choir of 175 voices, composed of singers from the cooperating churches in the Eugene-Springfield area. Some 45 churches are participating in the Jack Shuler Crusade, with services each night at 7:30 through Aug. 25.

Speaking on “Possess Your Souls,” Shuler first gave statistics of gambling as big business in America.

Then he declared that “greatest gambling is not in Reno, Las Vegas or at the race track, but in places where people gamble their souls, gambling on a tomorrow that never comes.”

Shuler’s Monday night topic will be “God’s Photograph of the United States.” For this night, designated as Church and Sunday School Loyalty Night, there will be awards for the churches having the largest delegation and the highest percentage in attendance.

There are nursery and childcare supervisors to take care of children while parents attend the Crusade meetings.

Shuler will be addressing pastors of this area at a 7:30 a.m. breakfast Tuesday in Eugene Hotel. During his stay in Eugene, he also will be speaking at service club luncheons.

 

In the middle of the Oregon crusade, the local paper ran a longer story on the event with the reporter giving details she noticed most. The perspective seemed to be one of observance rather than any particular point of view. She explored areas in more detail than most articles did. She even dealt with the perennial problem among evangelists, how the money received in offerings was used.

 

Evangelist in Eugene

Crusader Says People ‘Need to Be Helped’

By Joanne Braunberns of the Register-Guard

Eugene Register-Guard, August 11, 1957

“Christ is the answer.”

That’s what the sign says – a sign which hangs in the Eugene High School auditorium during the current Jack Shuler crusade.

And that’s what Shuler says in his dramatic presentations each night to audiences that have been averaging more than 1,300 persons.

“Oh, I’m a trouper,” he admits. “But the people don’t need to be entertained. They need to be helped.”

Before the help comes, Shuler entertains them, too. Take for example, his Thursday night presentation, “The Crucifixion.”

The 1 1/2-hour service opened with a “lifting” song. Devotions, solos by talented tenor Sam Allred and combined piano-organ selections by Bob Andersen occupied the first 45 minutes of the program. Don DeVos, fourth member of the crusade team, presided as master of ceremonies, introducing local ministers who are participating in the event. There was also a collection, gathered for crusade expenses.

Great Dramatic Ability

Then, the house lights darkened, and Shuler stepped out in front of the curtains. With display of his great dramatic ability, the evangelist stomped his feet, clapped his hands, waved his arms, raised and lowered his voice and cried as he emphasized high points in his talk on “The Crucifixion.”

At the end of his talk, the house lights brightened, and Shuler invited all with problems to meet him in the prayer room. The service ended with a song.

Reaction of the audience seemed mixed. One could have heard a pin drop during Shuler’s presentation. He commanded complete attention. Yet, during the singing few participated.

“There’s never an age without a voice,” said Shuler in an interview. He cited Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Christ himself, 20 centuries ago.

And yet, says this evangelist, no man presents an original message, only God’s revealed message.

“I have no power to save anyone,” he continued. “The power is in God’s word.”

‘The Next Billy Sunday’

Once called “the next Billy Sunday,” Shuler sees a definite need today for spiritual revival. He recalled empires of the past where more and more emphasis was placed on material things. Less and less attention was paid to moral and spiritual things. Just like an airplane with one wing longer and heavier than the other, these empires have spun out of existence, he says.

He draws a parallel with today – the increase in manufacture of munitions, the emphasis on cures for physical diseases along with increase in delinquency, divorce and drunkenness.

America “needs revival for survival” is his call. “Divine intervention is our only recourse.” For, Shuler says that unless God comes in, Communism will continue to grow stronger until it dominates the world.

But what good can an evangelistic team do, staying in a community for only a few weeks (three weeks in Eugene)?

The evangelist says it’s up to the individual pastors. “When the churches need a shot in the arm, they invite me,” he explained. “I give the Christian a sales talk and get the workers together until they are resold on a project.”

It’s what he calls “repossession of possessions.” For unless people are sold again and again, “they can go dead.”

And so Shuler preaches to the people. When admitting to problems, they go forward into the prayer room, Shuler talks to them in a group before they are turned over to local counselors.

Depends on Person

What the individual receives from such an experience in lasting effects depends on the person and also on his counselor. Shuler said that while he can encourage and help at first, the follow-up depends on the persons’ following the word of God, found in the Bible.

With so many churches (45 in this area) cooperating in such a crusade, doesn’t the prayer room become a place of competition between the churches for more members? It can happen, said Shuler, but he believes the set-up here prevents it.

Persons with no church affiliation meet with a trio of counselors. These helpers determine the closest church and advise the person to attend there.

And what happens to the money collected during the crusade? Local men, from participating churches, serve as ushers. The collection plates are gathered and the contents counted by the local gospel crusade finance committee.

According to Shuler, no member of his team has anything to do with this. The money is counted and banked, locally. Each night at the crusade, the audience is informed of the total received and of how much more is needed to meet the crusade goal.

This goal is a budget set up to cover crusade expenses. This includes payment to the singer, Allred, and pianist, Anderson, who are on salary. Shuler said that none of the funds come to him.

Receives ‘Love Offerings’

Money that he receives for his work comes in the form of “love offerings” requested of the audiences after expenses are met. DeVos, who manages Shuler’s affairs, directs the choir and serves as master of ceremonies, is paid in the same manner – by “love offerings.”

Shuler, now in his mid-30s, comes from a family of ministers. For 32 years his father was pastor of Trinity Methodist Church in Los Angeles, one of the largest in the USA. Young Shuler was an athlete during his high school and college days, then spent several years with a dramatic group.

It was 1940, when “I was born again,” he said.

In his early days as a preacher, he became friends with Billy Graham, who was just getting started. Visiting in New York early in the Graham crusade, Shuler was invited by Graham to share the Madison Square Garden platform, becoming only the second person to receive such an invitation.

Traveling from town to town with an evangelistic team is hard work, admits Shuler, but he likes it. For a bit of relaxation, he writes poems and songs. Currently, he is working on a novel in which he compares the vastness of the soul with the sea.

Claiming to be a poor vocalist, Shuler confines his musical diversion to playing the guitar.

 

One of the more interesting letter-to-the-editor comments came from a couple who had also attended Shuler’s earlier Oregon crusade in 1952. It dealt the other criticism of evangelists – that those who came forward in the meetings did not continue in their new-found faith after their conversion. The view of the wife in this letter countered this criticism as follows:

Letter-to-the-Editor

Eugene Register-Guard, Aug 19, 1957

On Jack Shuler

Eugene (To the Editor) – My husband and I wish to express our appreciation to the Register-Guard for the fine feature article you printed in last Sunday’s paper about Jack Shuler and the Eugene-Springfield Gospel Crusade.

Perhaps a lot of people wonder how effective the Crusade really is, whether the conversions really last. Five years ago, Jack Shuler was here for a similar campaign. During these meetings, my husband accepted Christ as his Savior. He was 25 years old, and until then he had never attended Sunday school or church in his life. He did not even know that God had a Son, much less that He sent His Son to die for him.

Following his conversion, Gene joined a Gospel church here in Eugene, where he received excellent Bible teaching. Immediately, he began to grow spiritually and to experience changes in every aspect of his life. Gene and I met the following spring and were married on January 10, 1954. Gene has taught Sunday school almost continually since we met. We spent 10 months as youth directors in a small church. Most of the time Gene has worked as a truck driver. On the job, his testimony as a Christian has always been respected.

We know that the greatest thing we may do to please God is to build our lives on the firm foundation, Jesus Christ, and to make ours a truly Christian home. When the storms of life come and we stumble (which we surely do) we know that we shall not fall, for we are building on the solid rock. Our most sincere desire is that we may help our two little daughters know Christ, too.

Gene would probably not have gone to the meetings five years ago had it not been for the faithfulness of a Christian girl who gave him her own testimony and invited him to attend.

A few days ago a man Gene drives truck with asked him “What do you think of Jack Shuler?” or “Have you heard him yet?” Gene replied, “Yes, I’ve heard him. And since you asked me I was converted in his meetings here five years ago. That’s the best thing that ever came into my life and good things have been happening ever since.”

Mrs. Eugene E. Hastings

 

Toward the end of the campaign, Shuler announced he would be holding his next crusade in Charleston, West Virginia. The Eugene Register-Guard, August 24, 1957, announced it would be held in September.

In 1958, Jack Shuler backed off of crusades. Instead, he began a TV show. His oldest child, Jack Edward, said “For a while, as the ministry was heading downhill, he had a program for a half-hour on Los Angeles area TV entitled ‘TV Challenge.’ It didn’t last long in that it was ahead of its time.”[3] On one of the shows he interviewed his father, “Fighting Bob” Shuler.

Shuler did occasionally still preach. But his popularity had shrunk. This could be seen in an article that announced his appearance in Spokane, Washington on Thanksgiving day. He preached only one night and shared the duties with a number of others. Also, he did not have his regular team behind him. But he still had strong appeal at some places.

 

Thanksgiving Day Services Planned

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Nov. 15, 1958

Thanksgiving day services are planned throughout the city and valley with a visiting evangelist leading one service and local ministers leading union or neighborhood worship services.

Spokane Youth for Christ is sponsoring its first such service, to be held the evening of Thanksgiving day, while the Greater Spokane Council of Churches is planning the traditional neighborhood services, a few to be held Thanksgiving eve, but the majority to be held the morning of Thanksgiving day, November 27.

Evangelist Jack Shuler of Arcadia, Calif., who led a series of meetings here two years ago, will speak at a Thanksgiving day rally here.

The service, sponsored by Spokane Youth for Christ, will be at 7:30 p.m. in First Baptist Church, Second and Lincoln.

Plans were announced today by the Rev. Philip F. Adams. Spokane Youth for Christ director, Merrill Womach will direct the singing. The Youth for Christ male quartet will sing and Ken Fuller, accordionist, will play.

The schedule of neighborhood services will be announced later by the council.

 

In 1959 Shuler returned to St. Joseph and showed he still held strong appeal to people who had heard him before. An editorial and an article in the local paper showed how strongly people felt about the ability and positive influence Shuler still had. The following editorial and an article show this.

This Man Shuler

St. Joseph News-Press, January 7, 1959

St. Joseph is having an intellectual treat. More, it is having a spiritual treat.

It is not often a newspaper gets enthusiastic over a “mere preacher.” Evangelist Jack Shuler, though, is more than a mere preacher. He is a great influence for good. The man was here long months ago and stirred our complacent Protestantism as it has not been stirred since Billy Sunday was here much more than a generation ago.

More recently Jack Shuler was here for one night. So well was he received that worshippers asked him to return. Booked far ahead, it was accident – or providential – a series in the East had to be changed to a later date. So this week Evangelist Jack Shuler is at a church out in Wyatt Park.

The man is dynamic. Those of you who heard him will swear to that. The Los Angeles Examiner gave him a whole half page, and page one at that, with a picture mind you. Wichita newspapers gave him wonderful page one display. The man has been highly acclaimed by men of national import, Missouri’s Stuart Symington and Kansas’ Frank Carlson.

If we were running the St. Joseph Ministerial Alliance or the St. Joseph Council of Churches we would come out of our shell and invite him to let us sponsor his meetings. How about rotating to use every downtown Protestant church? A wager, if one bets on things religious, that he will fill the churches.

A son of a minister, a grandson of a minister, Jack Shuler is by blood and by birth a preacher extraordinary. He deserves a larger house of God for his theological offerings and for his tremendous oratorical charm.

The school board rightly has made Central High School auditorium available Sunday for this extraordinary man.

 

Portrays a Bible Epic

St. Joseph News-Press, January 9, 1959

People were standing in the back of the auditorium at Wyatt Park Assembly of God Church last evening to witness Evangelist Jack Shuler’s graphic portrayal of the Biblical epic of Elijah and the false prophets of Baal. It was the fifth night of the current crusade which the evangelist is conducting.

“Elijah’s day was much like our own,” declared Doctor Shuler. “It was a case of the church having become very worldly and the world having become very churchy! Today America can boast more than 100,000,000 church members – along with the greatest wave of crime, drunkenness and immorality we’ve ever known. Too many have allowed themselves to be inoculated with a mild form of religion that has made them immune to genuine Christianity!”

Doctor Shuler stated that “No nation that is right with God within will ever see the enemy that can destroy her without. It is the loss of morals and the disintegration of character that has proved the undoing of great world powers.

“Material gain, intellectuality and high positions are poor substitutes for God’s favor through life and in the hour of death. While not intrinsically evil, only a fool would argue that there is lasting security in anything less than the eternal.

In announcing his topics for the 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. services, Sunday, when the crusade moves to Central High School auditorium, Evangelist Shuler said he would discuss “Hollywood Religion” at the afternoon rally and would dramatize the “Crucifixion” in the evening. Tonight he will talk on “Christian Infidels.”

 

Jack Holcomb

Jack Shuler conducted a three-day citywide “Crusade for Souls” in Tucson, Arizona in 1960. It took place Sunday, February 28; Monday, February 29; and Tuesday, March 1.  A decade after his crusade in the Los Angeles area with Jack Holcomb, he joined the popular tenor who again provided the music.[4]

     By this time Shuler had divorced Dorothy and married Ruth Eloise Wehr. A month after this crusade his first son from his new wife was born.

Little is known about Shuler’s activities later. His last few years of life have been so hidden that a number of stories with different degrees of believability have appeared.  

________

[1] Park City [Bowling Green, Kentucky] Daily News, July 28, 1957. The article said, “Noted evangelists from throughout America are dropping into the [Madison Square] Garden to view the happenings. Merv Rosell and Jack Shuler were among those greeted by [Billy] Graham…”

[2] William Martin. A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1991), 240.

[3] January 15, 2015 email from Jack Edward Shuler.

[4] Tucson Daily Citizen, February 27, 1960.

The Brief Life of “America’s most dramatic Evangelist” Chapter 9

Gone Too Soon!

The rapid rise in evangelists in the 1940s carried with it dangers. The danger was temptations. It touched a number of the young men preaching throughout the United States and shortened the career of some. At the same time these fallen evangelists provided clear negative examples to those still preaching.

One of the clearest examples involved a man born the same year as Billy Graham and Jack Shuler. His popularity peeked between the early and middle 1940s.

“Bron Clifford was … another gifted, twenty-five-year-old fireball,” said Steve Farrar. “In 1945 [when Clifford was 27], many believed Clifford the most gifted and powerful preacher the church had seen in centuries.  In that same year, Clifford preached to an auditorium of thousands in Miami, Florida.  People lined up ten and twelve deep outside the auditorium trying to get in.  Later that same year, when Clifford was preaching in the chapel at Baylor University, the president ordered class bells turned off so that the young man could minister without interruption to the student body.  For two hours and fifteen minutes, he kept those students on the edge of their seats as he preached on the subject, ‘Christ and the Philosopher’s Stone.’
“At the age of twenty-five [1943] young Clifford touched more lives, influenced more leaders, and set more attendance records than any other clergyman his age in American history.  National leaders vied for his attention.  He was tall, handsome, intelligent, and eloquent.  Hollywood invited him to audition for the part of Marcellus in ‘The Robe.’  It seemed as if he had everything.”[1]

Some of Clifford’s accomplishments while under 30 were listed in this article. But when he tried to break into Hollywood pictures, the effort flopped. He made it into one movie. After a brief insignificant appearance as a clergyman in the 1947 movie, “The Beginning or the End,” Hollywood offered him nothing else.

Clifford_Bron_GlenwoodCA_1BapCh2

Jack Shuler (as well as Billy Graham) would have been aware of Bron Clifford. Clifford dominated much of the religious news of the day, especially in the north and southeast in the 1940s. Interestingly, Shuler gave up any Hollywood hopes in the early 1940s while Clifford tried to get into Hollywood pictures in the late 1940s. More than likely that’s what distracted Clifford from his ministry.

Graham perhaps had more exposure to failed ministries than had Shuler since Graham racked up more miles on United Airlines in 1945 than any other person in the United States “and learning in the process how many congregations had been let down by unscrupulous free-lance evangelists in the Elmer Gantry vein.”[2] More than likely that made Graham aware enough to actively pursue a policy by 1948 to prevent such scandal.[3]

“Clifford’s story is nothing short of tragic,” said Mike Fehlauer. “By [1951], he had left his wife and his two children, who had Down syndrome. Alcohol had been the vice that destroyed his life. He wound up selling used cars in the Texas panhandle. Only nine years after being the most sought after preacher in the United States, Clifford was found dead in a sleazy motel room outside Amarillo, Texas.”[4]  [Bronwen Davies Clifford was born May 12, 1918 and died November 4, 1951].

Jack Shuler by the late 1940s and early 1950s had become perhaps the best speaker/performer among the many evangelists traveling throughout the United States. Billy Sunday’s music director Homer Rodeheaver (who appeared sometimes with Bron Clifford) lived long enough to meet most of the 1950s evangelists. On July 21, 1953, speaking about evangelist Merv Rosell, whom he admired, Rodeheaver told Rosell, “While you were preaching, I caught little glimpses of Billy Sunday and if Jack Shuler does not prove to be the one, in case a Billy Sunday picture is made, I feel you could do it.”[5] In a round-about way he saw Shuler as the leading speaker among the evangelists.

 

But by the late 1950s Shuler’s popularity gradually declined. Why was that? Shuler’s oldest son, Jack Edward, understood the reasons. He had better first-hand knowledge of his father than any other living person and his comments throw light on what happened.

Jack Edward listed several bullet points that accounted for his dad’s shrinking popularity while Graham’s grew. Among those, Jack Edward listed the following:

—Dad was an individual and made all major decisions pretty much by himself. Graham was socially smarter, and he knew that the wisdom of several would eclipse the wisdom of one or two. Dad hated committees.

—I feel strongly that Dad did not search enough in order to obtain the best people to keep around him. Graham did — to the extent that Grady Wilson had the job of shadowing Graham and not letting him get into compromising situations. In fact, that was probably Grady Wilson’s MAIN job.

—Dad was paid through the love offering…  Graham elected to be salaried.

—Dad did not incorporate and use business methods.

—Dad was ultra-fundamental up until the last three years. Then started a downward spiral—perhaps in rebellion against a staunch father — I don’t know. He never reached out to other denominations the way Graham did.  Bob Jones had a point.[6]

As for anyone who would accuse Jack Shuler of financial irregularities, his son said that was nonsense. Rather, he said the evangelist’s principles sometimes brought hardships on the entire family.

Dad had a policy (never broken to my knowledge) that any campaign not meeting the budget would be paid for “out of his own pocket.”  As I recall, he had ONE “love offering” per meeting, regardless of its length. That was his. No salary. (I remember as a small child receiving APPLES for payment for a three day tent-meeting and having fried apples, baked apples, etc. every day for a few days) There were no financial shenanigans, at least that I am aware of. We started out in Wilmore [Kentucky] “dirt poor.”[7]

Part of the reason Shuler’s crusades decreased had to do with the 1958 TV show he worked on and headed up. In addition to that, the above reasons Jack Edward listed had their effect. Together they started a trend that would not be reversed. Because of Shuler’s relative isolation from other evangelists he received no encouragement or help from others except for perhaps World Vision founder Bob Pierce.

By then all this affected his marriage and his lifestyle. Add to that his especially delicate health and you had the perfect storm.

As for his health, his son pointed out what Jack Shuler for some time had suffered through. Though he was an outstanding athlete in his youth, by his late thirties and early forties he encountered a real health problem. His son explained it.

Dad had, what I call, ‘paper lungs,’ He was occasionally spitting blood with a bad cough even when I was in Junior High [early 1950s]. He also was always trying to ‘project’ his voice, hence the hoarseness. Bronchiectasis, among other things, led to his demise. But it’s a little more complicated than that, unfortunately.[8]

By 1960 Jack Shuler’s home life had fallen apart. By1960 he and his wife, Dorothy, divorced. He then married Ruth Eloise Wehr.[9] What happened after that is somewhat shrouded in silence. The last public record available appeared in the L.A. Times on December 22, 1962. It stated:

Evangelist Jack Shuler, well known in the Southland and across the nation, died at his Van Nuys home Dec. 8. He was a son of the Rev. Bob Shuler Sr., longtime pastor of Trinity Methodist.[10]

In an email correspondence with the author, Jack Shuler’s nephew, Robert P. Shuler, III, when asked about what happened to Jack, said “He died in 1962 of a collapsed lung, having always had weak lungs. His crusades ended in 1960, give or take, due to his addiction to meds and later alcohol.”[11]

A former Youth for Christ director in Salina, Kansas sent the author an email in which he said:

Jack Shuler … had a brother, Phil Schuler, who I met at a church where he was holding a crusade some time ago. I asked about Evangelist Jack Schuler because I had booked him in several churches in and around Salina, Kansas where I was YFC director until 1963. Phil told me that his brother had back-slidden for several years, but that he had repented and had several years of successful ministry before he passed away. There are many things about Jack that are better left untold. They are covered by the blood of Calvary and forgiven by the grace and mercy of God.[12]

The full story of what happened in the last few years of Jack Shuler’s life may never be publicly known, but whatever it was won’t change the good he did from his conversion in 1940 through his nearly two decades of evangelism. No doubt thousands, if not tens of thousands or more, confessed their faith in Christ while attending one of Jack Shuler’s crusades.

[1] Steve Farrar, Finishing Strong (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 1995), 15-18. Some of Clifford’s sermon titles were “This is your hour,”  “My escape from Hell,”  “Jonah, the first submarine commander,”  “Show me a penny,”  Easter sermon: “Three Lilies,” “The Inescapable Detective or Why was not the lie detector used in the Lindbergh Case?,”  “The two most prominent men in St. Petersburg and why one is headed for Hell,”  “My Life Story his personal testimony of his conversion and call to the ministry,”  “The Tale of Two Cities,”  “The First Submarine Commander Who Spelled Doom for Hitler,”  “How to Know God,” “From Atheism to Calvary” or “The Story of My Life,” “The Four Suppers,”  “Amazing Rise of Russia and its Coming Doom,”  “Farewell to Arms,”  “The Robe” on the movie, “Heaven or Hollywood”.

[2] David Aikman, Billy Graham: His Life and Influence (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 50.

[3] Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (San Francisco: Harper, 1997), 127-129; William Martin, A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1991), 107-108; David Aikman, Billy Graham: His Life and Influence (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 76-77. Graham saw four temptations for evangelists: (1) Money; (2) Immorality; (3) Exaggerated publicity; and (4) Criticism of local pastors.

[4] The Seduction of Success Published on Sunday, 30 April 2000 Written by Mike Fehlauer

http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-leadership40/ethics35/217-the-seduction-of-success

[5] Garth M. Rosell, The Surprising Work of God (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 119.

[6] Email correspondence between the author and Jack Edward Shuler, January 21, 2015.

[7] Email correspondence between the author and Jack Edward Shuler, January 21, 2015.

[8] Email correspondence between the author and Jack Edward Shuler, January 15, 2015.

[9] http://vitals.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ca/death/search.cgi?surname=Shuler&given=Ruth.  Dorothy later married Stanley M. Sundin. Jack Shuler’s nephew, Robert P. Shuler, III, said Jack’s new wife’s name was Ruth Campbell (?). Jack and Ruth had two children, Todd Murphy, born March 29, 1960; and William T., born June 1, 1962.

[10] Los Angeles Times, Sat., Dec. 22, 1962, page 12.

[11] Email correspondence between the author and Robert P. Shuler, III, July 24, 2012.

[12] Email correspondence between the author and Dale Kurtz, March 21, 2013.