Hall of Faith moves to Nashville

The Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ Hall of Faith – honoring 36 evangelists who “fought the fight” and “kept the faith” — has relocated to Nashville.

The Hall of Faith, which had been located at the North American Mission Board near Atlanta, is now on the third floor of the Southern Baptist Convention building. The SBC Executive Committee unveiled the Hall of Faith’s new location during its Sept. 22-23 meeting.

“We are delighted to have this passionate group of soul-winning men and women to be a part of a permanent facility here,” Frank Page, EC president, said during his report to EC members.

Page said the Hall of Faith, established in 2007, recognizes evangelists who have impacted countless numbers of people for Christ during their years of service. The relocation is part of a partnership between the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE), NAMB, the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives (SBHLA) and the Executive Committee. The SBHLA will now be the official repository for COSBE’s non-current records and historical materials and host of the Evangelists’ Hall of Faith.

Brian Fossett, an evangelist and former president of COSBE who attended the unveiling, brought the 2007 recommendation to establish the Hall of Faith.

“God just laid it on my heart,” Fossett said. “I just felt the need [to recognize] men that had invested their life and … went through all the sacrifices … leaving their families on a regular basis and spent their entire lifetime living on faith … for the sole purpose of the harvest to see people saved.”

The first class of evangelists was inducted to the Hall of Faith in 2008 in Indianapolis during the SBC’s annual meeting. Among those inducted that year: Billy Graham and the late Freddie Gage, who died Sept. 12 (see related article).

Leon Westerhouse, a music evangelist who also was part of the 2008 class, was on hand to see the Hall of Faith’s new home.

“I’m thankful to be a part of it; it’s a great thing,” said Westerhouse, the first known music evangelist in Alabama during a time when there were only a handful of them across the country.

According to Hall of Faith records, Westerhouse has garnered more than 50 years of full-time music evangelism experience and shared the Gospel in more than 1,400 revivals, crusades and other evangelistic meetings. He also has had the opportunity to serve with fellow Hall of Faith inductees Junior Hill and Eddie Martin.

Westerhouse fondly recalled the days when he’d see 150 people saved in one week of a revival.

“Those were great days,” Westerhouse, a member of Huffman Baptist Church in Birmingham, said. “We don’t see those days much anymore…. But God is still on the throne and we just keep bearing witness.”

Georgia evangelist Keith Fordham, a former president of COSBE, also attended the EC meeting in Nashville. Fordham was inducted to the Hall of Faith this summer along with Franklin Graham.

“I’m thankful our [convention] uses evangelists,” Fordham said, sharing how his own decision to follow Christ happened during a revival in 1960.

Fordham, a member of Harp’s Crossing Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga., has served in more than 1,500 revivals in the United States and India.

Though some say revivals are a thing of the past, Fordham said they continue to make a difference in churches. This summer he preached at a church that had its first baptisms in 20 years, baptizing eight people. And since then, the church has seen a bump in attendance from 35 to 56.

“We may be worse preachers then others, we may be better than others. But when we go in, people respond,” Fordham said. “I’ve had people that disagreed with me theologically have me in repeatedly because we’re going to have people saved…. We’re going to follow through in believer’s baptism … because we had an evangelist in.”

— Shawn Hendricks is managing editor of Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.