Let Chicago’s Sinners Prepare to Tremble; ‘Gypsy’ Smith Is on the Way.
"Gypsy" Smith will come to Chicago next Sunday to commence a mission which will continue until Nov. 2. But who is "Gypsy" Smith will be asked by thousands of people as they rush downtown during the next few days for the picture of the "Gypsy" will take the place of the Creatore on the elevated platform billboards among the galaxy of other celebrities — "Charles I.," Montgomery and Stone, and the rest, and his likeness will also be seen in all places where people come and go, so that to know something of this visitor to our shores and to our city will stand one in good stead.
"To call him "Gypsy" is not stretching the figure, for he was born in a gypsy tent, as he says, "in the parish of Wanstead, near the Epping Forest, a mile and a half from the ‘Green Man,’ Leytonstone." That episode in his father’s family occurred now fifty-nine years ago, and from that moment in his life is one of thrilling interest to those who com in contact with him, for he brings one to think of woods, and flowers and mother earth with their quiet and gentle voicings of nature.
He came forth from such surroundings and with little of the prepossessing, and he has now become one of the most effectively persuasive evangelists among the English speaking people; there are those among our churchmen who will com to know that it is worthwhile to go out "into the byways and hedges," as has been said.
"Gypsy" Smith’s mother died in the same tent in which he was born, when he was only a child, ant it was a few years afterward that he wandered into a primitive Methodist church and was converted, from which dates his work as an evangelist. He grew up as a child of the forest, without education and many of those advantages without which his progress seemed barred, but he went resolutely to work with an energy rarely equaled, and as an evidence that he has made good and that his disadvantages were to his advantage rather than otherwise there are those who are conservative who say that millions of his fellows have been converted through the ministries of "Gypsy" Smith.
He is a quiet man, in his appearance he reminds one of a well groomed working man, but his oratory and style are characterized by such a beauty and force that they tell of much hard work and concentration; one of the great London dailies said of him that he is one of the finest exponents of Anglo-Saxon speech since the days of John Bright. He is devoid of those things which attract the sensation monger and he comes without any spectacular or pulpit trickery, and proclaims in his own peculiar way the way of life so that multitudes are drawn to hear him.
Unlike many of the modern evangelists he has no large force of sensitive and exacting assistants, and unlike them also he prefers the large cities for his work as the fact that last year he visited the following cities in our country will evidence: Pittsburg, Kansas City, St. Louis, Denver, St. Paul, and Minneapolis in the United States, and Toronto in Canada. The "Gypsy" Smith meetings in St. Louis were held in the Coliseum, and the dry statistics of that revival alone are replete with interest. It is estimated that 4,000 persons were converted through the eloquence of the great preacher, the total number who heard him there is 221,000; average attendance for seventeen meetings 13,000; smallest number at any one service, 5,000; estimated largest number turned away, 40,000. Mr. Hafferkamp of the Coliseum says: "The Coliseum had to be guarded by as many policemen as would have been necessary to quell a great riot. And all they wanted was to here this evangelist from England." With these facts come the ideas of what we may expect when Rodney "Gypsy" Smith comes to Chicago next week.
It is fitting that a laymen’s organization should bring the "Gypsy" to Chicago, since he is also a layman and the Laymen’s Evangelistic council of Chicago has for its motto the same as his: "To win men to Christ." The Laymen’s Council of Chicago was organized two years ago by such business men as H. P. Crowell, F. L. Wood, George C. Lazear, and others who have been as much interested in Chicago’s material growth as they have been in its spiritual progress. It is an organization which maintains its headquarters and executive offices as any modern and aggressive corporation does and with as much business system.
For some months their office force, consisting of a dozen stenographers and clerks under the direction of the organization’s executive secretary, George C. Lazear, has been issuing bulletins, personal and circular letters, and calls to service for a better Chicago, to every minister and active layman in the churches of the city. In connection with the office force are the various committees of "personal work," "chorus," "ushers," "church cooperation," "publicity," "program," "finance," "auditing," and "building and platform," which have also been actively at work preparing for the uplifting of Chicago between Oct. 3 and Nov. 2.
As a result of these preparations a chorus of 1,000 voices has been organized, and has already entered heartily upon its rehearsals; already nearly 400 churches of various convictions have entered the lists to assist the "Gypsy" in the coming religious campaign. On the evening of Oct. 3 — the first evening of the series — every Protestant church in the city has been asked to adjourn its service and meet at the Seventh Regiment armory, where the entire mission is to be held, and assist in the initial service of what promises to be the city’s greatest evangelistic movement.
The building select for these meetings is located at Wentworth avenue and Thirty-fourth street, and will seat 8,000 people.
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