July 23, 1984
Anfield stadium was back to being a football ground today after a week as a “temple to God”. The Billy Graham evangelical roadshow has packed up and left the famous shrine of Mersey soccer to head south on another mission.
But in its wake it has left an unprecedented response to the call to Christ, and thousands of new saved souls, it is claimed. The eight-day Merseyside crusade – stage five of a national tour – was without doubt the most successful yet organisers said.
With an attendance of almost a quarter of a million people, the final figure was just hundreds short of the record-breaking crus-Crusade to Birmingham.
But there was an overwhelming response of at least 3,000 people a night – and sometimes as high as 4,000 – to the evangelist’s call for crowds to walk forward and received God.
Officials say that nowhere on the British tour were those figures so high or enthusiasm so great.
Dr Graham (65), had come to Liverpool as the guest of Mission England, a British-based evangelical association.
His eight meetings at the ground attracted an average 30,000 people a night from all over the North West and North Wales.
He said at the beginning of his Liverpool crusade the area had great social and economic problems, and that he would not be able to affect them directly.
But he hoped that by attracting people to worship God and Jesus Christ he would be able to give them new faith and inner happiness to face the critics.
Religious counselors who dealt with the respondents to Dr Graham’s call said hundreds of people had come forward on the verge of breaking-point because of unemployment, social and personal problems, as well as a variety of urban pressures.
Dr Graham was believed to have considered Anfield the most important stage in his national tour.
Bishop Bill Flagg, chairman of the Mission England North West Organising Committee, said the crusade’s theme would be a new and real confidence boost in the region.
“There was a deep spiritual hunger on Merseyside before last week,” he said.
“But people rallied to Dr Graham’s meetings in a very large way – almost more than we had dared hoped for.
“At least 25 per cent of the people who came forward at the end of the meetings could not say which churches they considered themselves associated with.
“But they felt they needed a new spiritual guidance and that Dr Graham had crystallised many of their deep inner feelings.”
At least £100,000 is believed to have been raised through cash donations during the week, but none of the money will go to the Billy Graham organisation, organisers explain.
The funds will be used purely to pay the cost of the week and the remainder will be set aside for evangelical work in the future.
Bishop Flagg said 65 per cent of those who did heed Dr Graham’s call were women, and an equally high percentage were young people between 12 and 25 years of age.
Billy Graham’s meetings had served as a spur to churches throughout the region to come together and plan for a common cause, he said.
Bishop Flagg added that he welcomed Dr Graham’s low key sermons which lacked any overplayed sentimentality.
Churches all over area were now preparing themselves to meet the new bulge in their attendances, he said.
One Liverpool city centre church had been told 40 new people would attend it as a result of the Anfield crusade.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: July 23, 1984; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited