Girl  Evangelists
 
Betty Weakland
(1916-2007)

Betty Weakland had perhaps the longest career as a preacher. She started preaching at age seven (some reports say six), and by age ten, she had crossed the continent four times in revival crusades, and by age fifteen it was claimed that she had spoken to six million people, in addition the the large numbers who would have heard her on the radio. Around the age of twelve, she edited her own monthly magazine, The Betty Weakland Magazine. At age fifteen, she was said to have preached “almost nightly” since she was seven. Next to Uldine Utley, Betty seems to have been a favourite of the press.

Betty was a Baptist, and her parents were itinerant evangelists, so Betty was familiar with the revivalist stage and message from early on. When her parents noticed her talents, her father stepped back more and more from his preaching role so that his daughter could have that spotlight. Betty’s evangelistic team consisted of eight members by the time she was ten, though it is unclear whether that count would have included her younger sister (Dorothy) and brother (Roy, Jr.) at that time, though they are part of the cast on occasion. Betty’s father and mother were crucial players in the team, with her mother playing the piano and her father serving as master of ceremonies and occasionally as speaker.

Betty was a fundamentalist, as were almost all of the girl evangelists, and she had sufficient talent to come into the radar of fundamentalist and revivalist leaders. She was invited as speaker to major fundamental conventions—(such as at Winona Lake, the Mecca of Fundamentalism, when she was twelve), and she was assisted on various occasions by leading fundamentalist and revivalist talent, as, for example, when the leading song leader and music publisher of the day, Homer Rodeheaver, dropped by on occasion to lead the singing for a night or two of a crusade.

Unlike many girl evangelists who withdrew from the public scene when they became adults, Betty continued preaching, moving from itinerant revivalist to becoming a full-time pastor of a church for many decades. In 1939, at the age of 23, Betty published a 68-page book titled God and Healing. In it, she summarizes her activities to date: preached to more than seven million people face-to-face; preached over 150 radio stations; and for a period of fourteen months in the new 2000-seat Chapel that her father had built for her in Jamestown, N.Y., had preached every night except Mondays, and had spoken daily on her half-hour radio broadcast.

Betty married Captain Daniel Bixby in 1945 after he returned from wartime service. Bixby was a dentist, and the couple settled briefly at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, until they could return to Jamestown, N.Y., for Betty to take up again pastoral duties at the Betty Weakland Chapel.

Betty Weakland
Age 17 (1933)
[Photo from four-page song sheet, titled “Cling to the Hand of Jesus.”]

Married Name: Clutter (1945)
Crichton

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