- Moody, Dwight L.
- (183 7 - 1899)widely popular and influential evangelist and revivalistDwight Lyman Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts, on February 5, 1837, one of nine children. At the age of five, he was baptized in the local Unitarian church. He received only an elementary school education.In 1854, Moody moved to Boston, where he attended a Congregational church. He was converted to Christianity by his Sunday school teacher and the next year joined the church. Moving to Chicago in 1856, he participated in various community activities, using several different churches as his base. He began his own Sunday school in 1858.In 1860, Moody left his day job to go into the ministry full-time, and in 1861 became a city missionary for the Young Men's Christian Association. He was soon plunged into counseling with Union soldiers in the American Civil War. Meanwhile, his Sunday school grew into a church with its own building in 1863, which Moody served as a deacon. In 1867, Moody, then president of the Chicago YMCA, built the first YMCA structure in America, and also held his first evangelistic preaching campaign in Philadelphia.In 1869, on his first trip outside the United States, Moody met Henry Morehouse, a leader among the Plymouth Brethren who later introduced him to dispensationalism, which Moody would help spread beyond the Brethren. In 1870, Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908) joined Moody in Chicago as music leader for his preaching services; Sankey helped develop the field of gospel music. Their future careers would be inseparable.The great urban evangelistic campaigns that made Moody and Sankey famous across America actually began in the British Isles in 1873, at a meeting at the YMCA in York, England. Similar efforts followed in Sunderland, Newcastle (where Sankey introduced the first of his series of gospel song-books), Edinburgh, Dundee, and Glasgow. In Edinburgh, he met biologist Henry Drummond, who was greatly inspired by Moody's messages. After two more years of revivals in Ireland and England, the pair returned to the United States, where Moody preached in Brooklyn, New York, and Philadelphia before returning to Chicago in 1876 to help dedicate his rebuilt church, burned in the fire of 1871.Moody now traveled a great deal across America and England. He always drew large crowds and each campaign reported hundreds of converts, while hundreds of other nominal Christians testified to being energized and motivated to an active Christian life. During summers at his old home in Northfield, Massachusetts, he founded several schools, including Northfield Seminary (now Northfield School for Girls) in 1879 and the Mount Hermon Massachusetts School for Boys in 1881. Later in the decade, he formed the Chicago Evangelization Society, which evolved into Moody Bible Institute.Also at Northfield, in 1880 he began holding summer Bible conferences, which hosted pioneering student conferences. The college students Moody brought to Northfield created the Student Volunteer Movement in 1887.Moody's last campaign was held in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1899. He died in Northfield on December 22. His funeral service was led by C. I. Scofield, then the local Congregational pastor but soon to become an influential promoter of dispen-sationalism via the notes he included in his famous reference Bible.Moody left behind an institutional legacy in Chicago and Northfield that continues to the present, and influenced a number of people who went on to become Protestant leaders in their own right, from Fanny Crosby to John R. Mott. Moody created the model followed by 20th-century evangelists from Billy Sunday to Billy Graham. Ira Sankey survived Moody and spent the last years of his life as the president of Biglow and Main, a large music publishing firm.Further reading:■ Gamaliel Bradford, D. L. Moody: A Worker in Souls (New York: George H. Doran, 1927)■ James E Findlay Jr., Dwight L. Moody, American Evangelist: 1837-1899 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969)■ Dwight L. Moody, New Sermons, Addresses, and Prayers (Cincinnati: Henry S. Good-speed, 1877); , The Overcoming Life and Other Sermons (New York: F H. Revell, 1896)■ Wilbur M. Smith, Dwight Lyman Moody: An Annotated Bibliography (Chicago: Moody, 1948).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.