A breakthrough in Britain: London Crusade, 1954

Some journalists predicted that Billy Graham would fall flat on his face in London. Some politicians sought to keep him out of England altogether. But the 12-week Crusade that began March 1, 1954, changed the lives of thousands, and its effects are still being felt today.

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Harringay Arena, on Green Lanes in North London, played host to the Crusade. Contrary to the dismal predictions, more than 2 million people attended the meetings, and more than 38,000 responded to the invitation to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. In addition to the meetings at Harringay, Mr. Graham preached to thousands in Trafalgar Square and at Hyde Park. The Crusade’s closing day in May included separate meetings at the city’s two largest venues. Some 65,000 heard the Gospel at White City Stadium; Wembley Stadium’s crowd numbered more than 120,000.

During the Crusade, London churches were strengthened both by their participation in the work of the Gospel and the influx of new believers. And in the 66 years since then, many Christian leaders in the United Kingdom—pastors, evangelists, missionaries, radio broadcasters, magazine editors and Bible teachers—have traced the seeds of their own ministries to those days in 1954. 

The huge impact of the London Crusade also set the stage for many subsequent BGEA events in the U.K., including Franklin Graham’s upcoming Graham Tour, with stops scheduled in Glasgow, Newcastle, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham and London. For more information, go to GrahamTourUK.BillyGraham.org.

Photo: BGEA Archives