The Kokomo Krusade

Like a call from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, back when I was a young pastor years ago the secretary of  James Montgomery Boice, the famous pastor whom I had never met, called and asked if I would like for Dr. Boice to preach for us in Kokomo.  I could not believe it then, so perhaps you do not believe me now.  So here’s the story.

In 1996 WORLD magazine reported on the newly formed Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE) as many of their leaders met in historic Cambridge, Massachusetts, to address their concern over the decline of modern evangelicalism.   As they formulated the Cambridge Declaration to speak against the mass marketing techniques, worldly worship styles, and doctrinal confusion of the Western church, WORLD reported the following:

But Southern Baptist ACE participant Mark Coppenger, new president of Kansas City’s Midwestern Baptist Seminary, urged the group not to get overly uppity – and not to forget its own sometimes “patrician” marketing styles. Pointing out that ACE’s summit deliberately was staged in prestigious Cambridge, he suggested coyly that “We could have met, at less cost, in Kokomo, Ind. But we all know that somehow a ‘Kokomo Declaration’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.” (WORLD, “God and Man at Cambridge,” May 11, 1996 issue)

Well, that last sentence jumped out at me, so with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek I whipped off a letter to the editor:

Hey, wait a minute! In your article about the Cambridge Declaration (May 11/18), one participant noted that marketing strategy was used in holding the conference in Cambridge rather than meeting, for instance, “at less cost in Kokomo, Indiana.” Being a pastor of the only Reformed church – and an a capella psalm singing one at that – in a town where carnivals (a new car was raffled off in one service), pet baptisms, and rock band performances are standard fare for Sunday morning services, I rather relish the thought of Sproul, Godfrey, Boice, Horton, and others coming to town. He said a “‘Kokomo Declaration’ does not have the same ring to it.” But what about the “Kokomoan Kreed”? Or perhaps the “Kouncil of Kokomo”? Just let me know when. I’ll make reservations for you at the Koko Motel! – Barry York, Kokomo, Ind. (WORLD, June 8, 1996)

I doubted it would be published, and certainly it never crossed my mind that the men I mentioned would actually read it.  Yet Dr. Boice saw it and, realizing he would be visiting family near us, had his secretary call me.  We scheduled for him to preach for us on August 4th of that summer.

Though I warned him before he came, when the big day arrived I was not sure what he would think.  Being a small church plant and meeting in the fairly rundown, local YWCA, we were a far cry from Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.  Yet Dr. and Mrs. Boice were so gracious and genuinely excited about being with us.  They radiated the love of the Lord.  When the time for the sermon came, Dr. Boice recounted parts of the above story.  Then he said that “rather than holding the Kouncil of Kokomo, today will mark the beginning of the Kokomo Krusade.”

Sadly for us still in the church militant, Dr. Boice left us a few years later.  Fifteen years since he was in Kokomo what I really remember is his wonderful bass voice filling the gym (we had to move there for the extra visitors) and our hearts with his message “Glory to God Alone” from Romans 11:33-36.  It was classic Boice preaching – Christ-centered, Scripture-illuminating, confessionally-consistent, helpfully-illustrated, and aptly applied.  For some time it has been buried in our church’s website archives.  In digging it up when I was asked for it recently, I thought perhaps others of you would appreciate hearing it.  Just click the link below.

Boice Message (08-04-1996)

12 Comments

  1. Teresa March 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Thank you Barry for this beautiful little story. I’ve heard a lot about Dr. Boice, as I currently attend Tenth, and it’s wonderful to know that he made such a warm connection with the RPCNA.

  2. rob March 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Thanks, that is a great story!

  3. Ron March 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    I recall that time very well. With sadness we could not be there that day, but still recall the excitement and joy of God’s providence and the beauty of the connectedness of the famiy of God. Dr. Boice was not a “heavy handed theologian” who saw himself too important to think of the “little ones” but a humble and loving brother in the Lord who came to share with his family; his brothers and sisters in the Lord. What an encouragement that was. Maybe it’s time for another “big brother to come visit. Any takers? : )

  4. Barry March 29, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks for sharing Barry. Great story. It is indeed wonderful to hear messages from departed brothers in Christ. A few years ago I found the following web site and some great S. Lewis Johnson sermons among many others. I am going to listen to the one above now.

    http://faithbyhearing.wordpress.com/

    Giving a HT to Tim Challies for finding these gems.

  5. Steve March 29, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Dr. Boice has had a great impact on my life, from the times when I’d listen to him on The Bible Study Hour, through precious times of reading his commentaries–John and Romans are must-haves. His passion for His Lord and His Word, and his ability humbly, forcefully, and clearly to communicate it, made him so special to me. Thank you for sharing this telling story from the life of a beautiful servant of our Lord Jesus.

  6. Dan March 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I can’t tell you how much this means to me! Thank you for posting this jewel.

    I’ll spare you an extra paragraph, but I am now in Romans 11 and entering my 5th year of studying Romans via Dr. Boice’s sermons and print commentaries. Actually, I am nearing the text of the sermon that you have posted!

    I can’t describe how much I’ve learned about doctrine, theology and church history through the ministries of Dr. Boice but also of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Though Dr. Boice is no longer with us and I never enjoyed the pleasure of meeting him, the Alliance has soldiered on since his departure with the same work to strengthen and solidify the Church; I just went to my third PCRT last weekend. It is clear that God is still working through the ministry of the Alliance, and it has been a joy to grow closer to this ministry. Though I have heard that Dr. Boice was not a perfect man (and who is?), it is clear from those who knew him how fondly they remember him.

    Also: if anyone coming across this post has not read the Cambridge Declaration, please do so! It still shines a light on the condition of the Church today, and calls all of us in whatever denominational or independent background we find ourselves, to repent of our worldliness and to see the authority and sufficiency in Scripture for doctrine, worship, and life, to the glory of God.

  7. Barry York March 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Many thanks to you who have commented above and added to the testimony regarding Dr. Boice and the Alliance. It’s great to hear of the impact for Christ he has had on your lives.

    And thanks to Tim Challies for sending many of you this way.

  8. Paula Bolyard (@pbolyard) March 30, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Not to go off on too big a rabbit trail, but another reason the Kokomo Krusade may not have been a great idea is that using the “K” alliteration used to be a kind of code for the Ku Klux Klan around the turn of the century, during the time of the 2nd wave of the Klan:

    Klean Klinkerless Koal for Kranky Kustomers
    Kind, Kareful, Kourteous Lang Coal
    Elite Garments – Klean Klansmen’s Klothes
    Krispy Kreme (OK, I don’t know about that one, but the company was founded during the same time period and I’ve always wondered)(I hope not!)

    And, by the way, Indiana was a hotbed for Klan activity. You can see some of the ads from an Indiana Klan paper, The Fiery Cross.

    Actually, there was a Kokomo Krusade on July 4, 1923, when (it was claimed) 200,000 Klansmen gathered there for a massive rally.

    It was a shameful time for our country and, in particular, for the church, as you will see if you spend 5 minutes reading these papers.

    Just a little trivia to add to your legend : )

    • Barry York March 30, 2012 at 6:43 am #

      Paula,

      All I can say is that I know this sad history of which you speak and yet this alliteration connection never crossed my mind until your comment. It is obvious that it had nothing to do with Dr. Boice’s thoughts.

      • Paula Bolyard (@pbolyard) April 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

        Barry,

        I didn’t mean to imply that Dr. Boice (or you) had intended any racial overtones in the name! Sorry if it came across that way. It just caught my eye and I thought I’d pass along that bit of historical context about the “K” theme. I imagine there are still some folks old enough to remember what it means. However, I’m not trying to be the PC Police!! : )

        • Barry York April 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

          Paula,

          Though I understood you that way, I just wanted it to be clear to our readers. Thank you for clarifying it further.

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  1. The Sovereignty of God and The Last Revival at Geneva « BarryDean 4 Christ - March 29, 2012

    [...] I listened to a wonderful sermon by the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice. The sermon is posted here at the bottom of the page. If you read the accompanying personal story written by Pastor Barry [...]

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