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Holiness and Revival

The Revival of 1951

For many Christians today and years ago, revivals have been the starting point. A hundred years ago people met in tents or out under the stars to hear about their God and be newly revived, torn out of their dead Christianity and confronted with new commitment. Many a great church leader started his ministry on a hard altar bench in a small revival tent somewhere out in the fields. Today, revivals usually take place in church buildings or centers, air-conditioned, with comfortable seats and high-tech performances. But still today, revivals are starting points. Starting points for people that renew or begin their relationship with their God. Places to be newly revived, were dead Christianity comes alive once more. Maybe they have become less frequent now than in the time of the Holiness Movement. But they still take place, often only little sparks that start a new fire which will burn bright for many years.

The most remarkable revival that was held on the Bethany SNU campus was the revival of 1951. There were other revivals, like the one of 1934, but those two weeks in 1951 definitely stayed in the minds of anyone who attended.

The revival had been supposed to be a week long, but on the last evening they weren't able to close and went on for another week. Most classes were suspended, and students and faculty came to listen to Dr. Russell V. DeLong. The services took place in Herrick, which at that time was still Bethany First Church of the Nazarene.

The revival began on April 1, 1951, with a Sunday morning service. Already the first service was filled with God's spirit and many people were stirred (instead of having several days of warm up). There were services every morning and every night. The altar could almost not accommodate all the people that came to the front in every single service. On the first night, the evangelist had a chest in which everybody put his or her prayer requests. At the end of the revival there was a great burning of prayer requests, of which many had been answered.

The Tuesday morning service went for three hours and found about 125 people at the altar. On Wednesday morning the service went yet another hour longer. People ventured out into Bethany and began inviting seriously to the meetings. Attendance numbers kept rising, so much that children had to sit on the floor and the auditorium could not hold all the people. More and more people came to the front, the services went longer and longer. On that Sunday, Sunday school attendance reached a record 1624. During the service, 150 people and more made it to the altar.

On Sunday night everyone was sad to see the revival come to a close. So an echo meeting for Monday night was planned. Monday night brought such an overwhelming meeting that Dr. DeLong agreed to stay the rest of the week.

Thursday evening the chapel was crowded as never before. "Another service crowned with victory!" Music played an important part in the whole revival, with praise being lifted up to God without ending.

Minnie Blanchie Dimond, senior at Bethany-Peniel College, describes the last service on Sunday evening with her own eyes:

"Heaven on earth. That is the best I can explain the closing service of this revival campaign. The church was packed and jammed and that literally; some had to attend the service by remote control (in a room in the basement with a sound system). Hearts were heavy and prayers, hundreds of them, ascended for those still outside the fold. Prayers did not go unanswered! 'Excuse My Alibi' drove truths home and they hit deep. Conviction settled over the crowd like a pall. Hearts began to step out for God and soon the altar was full, improvised altars filled, and victory began to break."
On this last night, the petitions in the chest were burned, and the revival ended with the promise that it was only the beginning.

Dorli Gschwandtner

Our Nazarene Heritage
Founded in 1899, Southern Nazarene University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university - a service of the Church of the Nazarene. Located on a 40-acre campus just west of Oklahoma City, SNU grew out of several small colleges committed to educating people for lives of service to God, leadership, and reconciliation toward their neighbors and within the global community. More than 32,000 alumni work and serve throughout the United States and the world. Read About Our Heritage

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