Over the years, there have been many attempts to assess the impact of Dr Graham’s ministry – particularly that first crusade of 1954 – on the British Church and people. There is no doubt about its immediate effect.
A former Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Michael Baughen, was a theology student in 1954, and fondly remembers Underground trains crowded with hymn-singing passengers. He spoke for many when he recalled: “It was like divine adrenalin for a jaded Church.”
As far as the nation was concerned, if the national press is to be any guide, initial hostility – “Yankee spellbinder”, and “hot-gospeller” were two of the milder epithets, while one columnist suggested that the Home Secretary should refuse him entry – gave way to grudging, and in some cases warm-hearted, approval. For example, a Sunday Graphic columnist, whose initial reaction was “This Billy Graham line just won’t do,” 11 weeks later expressed thanks to Graham, saying: “You’ve done us a power of good.”