Accessibility Navigation:

Wendell Sloan Interview

Sloan, Wendell
Perry, Morgan
Date of Interview: 
Huntersville, NC; Southern Ministers; Charlotte Coliseum; Revivals; Billy Graham Crusades; Southern Baptist Convention
Mr. Sloan is minister of the First Baptist Church in Huntersville, North Carolina. In this interview he discusses Billy Graham`s ministry and his own involvement in the Charlotte crusades. Mr. Sloan offers his opinions about what Billy Graham`s ministry has meant to Charlotte.
Charlotte, 1950s-1990s
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed at the Sloan home in Huntersville, North Carolina
Levine Museum of the New South, Billy Graham Series
Collection Description: 
Morgan Perry participated in interviewing people associated with Billy Graham and the crusades for an exhibit on his life at the Levine Museum of the New South.
Interview Audio: 
MP (Morgan Perry): With Mr. Wendell Sloan at his home in Huntersville, North Carolina. It is April fifteenth it`s about 9:45 in the morning. Mr. Sloan if you could just tell--. April sixteenth excuse me. [Laugh] If you could just tell me a little bit about your experience with Billy Graham working kind of chronologically from your first one on to the present.
WS (Wendell Sloan): Well Ms. Perry, I was involved with, as a Boy Scout back in the middle 30s when the Ham-Ramsay Revival was conducted here in Charlotte. And at that time, I did not know Billy Graham and Billy Graham did not know me. But Billy Graham attended one of the services where I was, as a Boy Scout, helping to park cars. And at that particular revival service, he accepted the Lord and dedicated his life to Christian service. And from that time until I was a, probably seminary student, I had only read about Billy Graham in the newspapers. I did not even realize that I was at the same meeting as a Boy Scout years before, but as a minister of education in Augusta, Georgia, when I learned that Billy Graham was to conduct a crusade here in Charlotte. The pastor with whom I served in the First Baptist of Augusta, Georgia, and I chartered buses and brought two busloads of people to the crusade from Augusta. And it was just a thrilling experience to be a part of a large interracial gathering for religious purposes. And being in the crusade itself is a wonderful experience but there`s a lot of preparation that goes on; a lot of involvement on the part of, of Christian people in various committees and meetings ahead of time. It`s not just an announced time to meet. Just like right now, preparing for the crusade here in Charlotte this fall, some of us are involved in some crusade preparation meetings and prayer meetings and organizing within our church to get people to, to pray for the crusade and be involved in it personally, rather than just attending the meetings that will take place. It`s traditionally thought of that a revival meeting or a religious crusade is a series of meetings just like most churches have, but it`s interesting that, that Billy Graham has worked with his team to where there`s a, a special meeting for youth and a special meeting for men and a special meeting for ladies and there`s special prayer meetings for various interests. All to, to warm the hearts and to get people prepared for hearing the Word of God and it`s just a simple message. Now Billy Graham is probably preached to more people than anyone in all time, but the, the wonderful thing is that his humble spirit and his impeccable integrity-you hear a lot of things about evangelists today-but you, you, I just don`t know anything you could criticize Billy Graham for. A lot of evangelists are criticized, but he just preaches the simple gospel and let`s the power of the Word of God, speak to the hearts of people. And, that`s what happens at the close of his services when he just says, gives an invitation and the people just swarm down the aisles. And I get, every time I see it on T.V. or in a crusade meeting itself, some people call, you goose bumps, I call them spiritual bumps, just seeing that many people. No coercion, just a simple invitation and the power of God is, is just so wonderful that it just moves people to get up from where they are and go and say to all the people present that God has spoken to my heart and my life`s going to be changed because.
MP: Would you mind speaking to the point about you said that the first crusade, ya`ll came out from Augusta to was an integrated crusade, would mind speaking to the circumstances around coming to an integrated crusade and what you think made that different or special about, than just a regular church, church meeting.
WS: I would be happy to. Usually, if you charter a bus to go to another location, it`s just a case of excitement on the part of people to, to schedule a time and be sure they`ve got a seat on the bus and go on the trip and enjoy what`s going on and come back. But the unique thing about our chartering two buses to come from Augusta, Georgia to Charlotte, North Carolina for a crusade led by Billy Graham, was that we had a gentleman in our church in Augusta who was Truman`s Minister to Albania and he had a conviction opposed to integration and being as Billy Graham`s crusade is always an integrated crusade, as the expression goes, "the ground is level at the cross." And colors don`t make a difference and ethic [sic] backgrounds don`t make a difference, but anyway, this man [clears throat] printed flyers and hired young boys to distribute flyers picketing our going to the crusade and even on the morning that we loaded the buses, he was there and had his boys passing out flyers to everybody that got on the bus, trying to get us to not do so, only for the reason that we were going to be seated black and white, red and yellow, whatever, together in the Coliseum here in Charlotte, which is now Independence Arena. But, it did not faze our people, it created a lot of conversation, but those of us who were coming, were coming for the message and to hear Billy Graham preach, so it didn`t, didn`t bother us. It made the headlines in the Augusta papers, but it did not change the, anyone coming that, that came with us.
MP: Would you, what do you think is so, makes Billy Graham such an effective speaker? And a lot of people talk about the fact that it took a southern revivalist, you know, in, in history you have a series of revivalists, Billy Sunday and it, it, working all the way down and its almost like the time was right for a revivalist to come from the south. But, do you think that the fact that Billy Graham is a Southern Baptist [laugh], you know, has much to do with the fact that he is so effective, or what do you think makes Billy Graham some an effective evangelical--evangelist?
WS: With all due respect to being a Southern Baptist, which I am too, I don`t think that`s what makes Billy Graham what he is. In fact, Billy Graham is just the, the instrument that God is using and I think that the reason God is using Billy Graham is because he is so humble and gives God the credit. He gives all the glory to God, he doesn`t, doesn`t ask for glory for himself. Now, a lot of evangelists are in this business and you can just look at their practices, their way of living. Billy Graham is impeccable integrity, and has an organizational structure that is accountable to the people that organize these crusades. He`s just; he`s just the instrument. He`s just a human being dedicated and gives God the credit, and I think this is the reason the Lord uses him [phone rings] and he`d use the rest of us if we would be that humble.
MP: What type of specific jobs have you worked on in the crusade or, or have you?
WS: Specific jobs that I have held on working in the crusade is: I have organized prayer meetings in the churches I`ve served. I have helped with the ushering a time or two. I have worked, somewhat, as a counselor when the, the people make a decision and come forward and ask the Lord to come into their lives then they`re taken off to the side in a meeting room and some of us have been trained to, in those crusades, to, to counsel with those people and make sure they understand what they`re doing and try to lead them to, to follow through on that decision and to line up in a local church and be active in Christian service. I`ve never held a high crusade title, that doesn`t matter, just whatever was, was needed in, in the local church that I served.
MP: What kind of impact do you think Billy Graham has made on Charlotte? Do you think there`s a difference that his presence being a Charlotte native has made or, or just the difference his crusade--crusades make when they come to Charlotte?
WS: The interesting thing to me is that Billy Graham, because of his, the respect that people have for him, you can get business leaders together for the crusade led by Billy Graham and his team when these business leaders can`t get together on anything else that goes on.

MP: [Laugh]
WS: And, and there`s not any big debate. This one, this business leader opposing or being against, it`s just that he is so respected by virtue of his integrity, Christian integrity that I think that he has made a tremendous affect on Charlotte. I think this crusade will have a big impact upon the life of Charlotte. We read the, the newspapers and see T.V. and all this bad news that comes by what`s happening morally or immorally I should say, but I think it`s going to make a difference on the situation in Charlotte and the surrounding area because of the change in the lives of people when they rightly relate their lives to Jesus Christ.
MP: What are you most looking forward to at this fall`s crusade?
WS: I`m looking forward to it, because some people in the church that I`m a member of, First Baptist Church of Huntersville, North Carolina, are excited about the crusade and I`m looking forward to what`s going to happen in some of their lives because of, of the simple gospel being preached in a mass setting like it is. It just, it`s inspiring. It gives you spiritual goose bumps to be a part of, of a, a crusade meeting like that. The power of the Holy Spirit being together in the lives of people, that many in one place, it just has to be electric. You can feel it.
MP: Well thank you very much for, for talking with me today.
WS: My privilege.