By Deane Barker

Definition: a member of the clergy who travels about to conduct revivals

I knew what a “revival” was in general terms, but I looked it up:

a period of renewed religious interest; an often highly emotional evangelistic meeting or series of meetings

Wikipedia has it under Revival Meeting, to disambiguate a specific event from the general societal notion of a “revival”:

A revival meeting is a series of Christian religious services held to inspire active members of a church body to gain new converts and to call sinners to repent.

Notably, the word “revivalist” doesn’t appear on that page.

Why I Looked It Up

In a book, I saw a reference to “Revivalist Dwight Moody.” On his Wikipedia page, it says this:

Moody gave up his lucrative boot and shoe business to devote his life to revivalism, working first in the Civil War with Union troops through YMCA in the United States Christian Commission.

He was a traveling pastor for most of his life. He would travel from city to city holding tent worship services.

When Moody returned to the US, he was said to frequently attract crowds of 12,000 to 20,000 were as common as they had been in England. President Grant and some of his cabinet officials attended a Moody meeting on January 19, 1876. He held evangelistic meetings from Boston to New York, throughout New England, and as far west as San Francisco, also visiting other West Coast towns from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to San Diego.

So, he was literally a “revivalist” – one who performs revivals.

(I’m curious if one could be a “revivalist” if they support a general revival rather than performing specific events. If one works for a “Christian revival” without traveling and holding events, could they call themselves a “revivalist”?)

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