"BOBBY SOX" RALLIES
U.S. YOUTH AND RELIGION
O.C. SAN FRANCISCO, July 5. One million 'teen-age boys and girls turning their backs on jive; and boogie-woogie on Saturday nights 1 favour of hymns, spirituals and Gos'pel lessons, sounds like something truly out of this world, but it is going to happen in the near f utu re> according to the Rev. Torrey M. Johnson, 36, good-looking ex-college football player who is head of the Youth for Christ movement which has swept over the United States ana is growing with phenomenal speed. Already the "bobby sox" evangelist rallies—so-called, because of their appeal to girls who formerly swooned over Frank Sinatra, Harry James and Van Johnson —have caused more than 300,000 adolescents to forsake rug cutting for the sawdust trail. The interdenominational Protestant movement, which has 450 units meeting regularly and is expected by Mr. Johnson to have 1000 soon, is hailed by some churchmen as the most significant religious revival for many years in America. Launched in New York, it now has its headquarters in Chicago, and also has taken hold in' Philadelphia, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, Miami, Tulsa, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities.
The Saturday night rallies draw from 2000 and 3000 up to 13,000 youngsters. Special occasions bring out even more. Two Madison Square Garden meetings in New York, conducted by Jack Wyrtzen, former jazz band leader who call his movement The Word of Life, attracted 20,000 on each occasion. A rally in Soldier Field, Chicago, last Memorial Day, saw 65,000 in the stands to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of the movement in that city.
Sociologists, welfare officials and police authorities view the movement as a potent means of turning youthful enthusiasms into constructive channels at a period when juvenile delinquency has reached record proportions. At Mr. Johnson's office in Chicago the gathering are called "glorified gospel meetings, geared up to double-time tempo" calculated to appeal to modern young America. Great Deal of Showmanship The method of conducting the meetings varies from place to place, but everywhere they are "streamlined" and alive. At the Saturday night rallies in Orchestra Hall in Chicago a high school girls' choir. 100 strong, starts the congregation singing hymns under the direction of Song Leader Bob Cook. Jive tempo and boogie-woogie effects are sometimes incorporated into the music. According to the experts, this is good psychology, since it gives the youngsters an opportunity to indulge harmlessly in the pulsating rhythms that often are not so harmless when coupled with antics in unsupervised dance halls. A great deal of showmanship is exercised to keep the youngsters interested. Emphasis is put on pageantry. For instance, at the Memorial Day rally in Soldier Field in Chicago, a chorus of 2500 young people sang; 400 nurses marched in the form of a cross; a 12-foot gold star, honouring fallen servicemen, was unveiled; Gil Dodds, ch'ampion runner who forsook athletics for evangelism, raced a mile around the Field, and thousands promptly raised their hands when the Rev. Percy Crawford, pastor of the famous Young People's Church of the Air, asked for converts. In Los Angeles, at the Church of the Open Door, the number of adult leaders is kept at a minimum and the youngsters are encouraged to take part in the programmes. The young people fill the main auditorium and two large balconies well before seven o'clock, the scheduled hour for the services. Down in front the Edison Junior High School band greets arrivals with throbbing military marches and the service songs of the United States armed forces. On hand are Leroy Whitney, wellknown organist, and the famed revival pianist, Rudy Atwood. "Our biggest difficulty is chasing these kids home after nine p.m., so we won't get into trouble with Sunday School teachers next day. To placate them, Atwood and I have put on a sort of 'jam session' of jspiritual music around the piano and organ for half an hour after the meeting ends," states Whitney.
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"STREAMLINED", Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 172, 23 July 1945
"STREAMLINED" Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 172, 23 July 1945
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