A few years ago I received much negative feedback when I laid claim to the title of “Ecumenist of the Year.” Billy Sunday (1862-1935), who was a significant influence in my evangelism, was also ecumenical in his approach to revivalism.

Sunday was America’s most celebrated and influential evangelist of the of early 20th Century. He preached the fundamentals of the faith. Sunday was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in 1903 but his ministry was nondenominational.

Wikipedia says, “Sunday refused to hold meetings in cities where he was not welcomed by the vast majority of the Protestant churches and their clergy.”

Wikipedia continues, “Sunday was not a separatists as were many Protestants of his era. He went out of his way to avoid criticizing the Roman Catholic Church and even met with Cardinal Gibbons during his 1916 Baltimore campaign. Also, cards filled out by “trail hitters” were faithfully returned to the church or denomination that the writers had indicated as their choice, including Catholic and Unitarian.”

In his ecumenicalism, Billy Sunday set the stage and example which Billy Graham was to follow in the second half of the 20th Century.

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