"Famous Evangelist Billy Sunday in West Frankfort"
Some Important Spiritual History
There is a "God history" that comes with October, so I will share it. In October of 1927 all of West Frankfort was in preparation for the Billy Sunday campaign to arrive for a six week revival.
A Tabernacle was built for the meetings. It was between the railroad tracks and the West Frankfort Fire Station on Emma Street. The Tabernacle was a wooden structure built from the ground up and held 3,000 people. It had a stage for a 250 person choir, which consisted of people from all churches. It had 12 doors, simple wooden benches to sit on, and a sawdust floor. There were four large Holland furnaces to add heat, and two Baldwin pianos which were sent by train for the meetings. The churches of West Frankfort came together to build the Tabernacle. It was built in 8 days!!
Among the church pastors who "donned their overalls, took up their tools and waded into the construction" (Daily American, Oct. 6, 1927), were: Rev. O.B. Allen of First UMC, Rev. L.H. Page of Trinity UMC, and Rev. C.S. Tritt of Central UMC. The Tabernacle was dedicated on October 11, 1927. One of the opening prayers was prayed by C.S. Tritt of Central UMC.
On the opening Sunday, October 16, 1927, 12,000 people came from all over Illinois Indiana, Kentucky,Missouri and Arkansas. The revival meetings were on Sunday, but during the week, Mr. Sunday, his wife and revival team, hosted Men's meetings and Women's meetings in the area churches. These were very well attended. This continued for six weeks, ending on November 28, 1927. There were 100 sermons preached and 230 towns visited during this time. The day after each meeting, the entire sermon was printed in the Daily American for all to read.
On October 22, they held the largest single meeting in the Tabernacle, with a crowd of 5,000 in attendance - standing room only - inside & outside! It was a meeting for High School students. Area schools present were: Benton, Johnston City, Herrin, Marion, Zeigler, Christopher, Thompsonville, Carterville, Harrisburg, Crab Orchard and West Frankfort. West Frankfort enrollment of over 800 students came (my mom was there, she was a freshman that year). The West Frankfort High School Band provided music. Earlier that day, Billy Sunday had gone to the Franklin County Jail to talk with our most famous outlaw - Charlie Birger. Charlie was the last man hanged in Franklin County in April of 1928 for his crimes. But who knows, maybe even Charlie made it to Heaven - at least he was given the chance.
The point of this history - these people were praying the same prayers 90 years ago that we are praying NOW! God save West Frankfort! Make your presence know - unify your churches to work together for the good of YOUR kingdom!