Criswell, W. A.
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Time Period
12/19/1909  - 1/10/2002
W.A. Criswell, a graduate of Baylor and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, succeeded the famous preacher George Washington Truett as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas in 1944. Criswell expanded First Baptist into one of the largest churches in the nation with a membership of 26,000 (including evangelist Billy Graham) by using tactics associated with modern megachurches, like building a family life center with a bowling alley, skating rink, and gymnasium.

Criswell, elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1968, presided over the early years of the "Conservative Resurgence" in the denomination, expanding conservative influence through the president's powers of appointment. The more than 50 books he authored and his popularity as a preacher further influenced a generation of conservative Baptist clergymen. Indeed, a young seminarian named Rick Warren skipped school to hear Criswell preach, feeling a call to ministry as a result.
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W A Criswell portrait- The W. A. Criswell Sermon Library,

W A Criswell statue- Wikimedia Commons- photo by user IslandsEnd (CC BY 3.0)
Additional Resources
Web Page Contributor
Paul Matzko
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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