Our church has always been an inclusive and not an exclusive church. From the beginning the people of every race, creed, and color have been invited. We never had the problems which have arisen so recently in the matter of segregation or integration. Long before any of the organizations now working diligently on these matters had been organized our church was open as the sky.—Preston Bradley, from his 1962 biography Along the Way.

Preston Bradley

From a Chautauqua flyer, circa 1925

Editor’s Note: The following text is from a Chautauqua flyer advertising a lecture to be given by Preston Bradley. Chautauqua (pronounced shə-TAW'kwə) is an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua brought speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers, and specialists of the day to rural American communities. Note the mention of the Pantheon Theatre. In 1918, Preston Bradley’s congregation moved to the Pantheon Theatre, a motion picture house located on Sheridan Avenue in Uptown and considered one of the most beautiful auditoriums of its day. The congregation stayed at the Pantheon for eight years before finding a permanent home on Lawrence Avenue.

Preston Bradley

Preston Bradley of the Peoples Church of Chicago. Image circa 1925, from a Redpath Chautauqua advertising flyer.

On Sunday mornings about ten o’clock a person walking past the Pantheon Theatre, Chicago, wonders at the crowds surging in and about the entrance. He finds the streets crowded with people coming from all directions and all going to this one place.

The Pantheon seats 3,000 people and there on Sunday mornings at 10:30 o’clock Dr. Preston Bradley, well-known pastor of the Peoples Church, Chicago, preaches to one of the largest church audiences in America.

The audience is in a large degree made up of practical, everyday business men and Dr. Bradley’s ability to attract and hold these men Sunday after Sunday is the surest possible evidence of his power as an orator.

Dr. Bradley is a born orator. A wonderful command of language, great personal magnetism, a power of invective, a refreshing gift of humor, and the ability to grasp the salient points of a theme all unite to make him one of the great preachers and lecturers of the day.

He is a man of many interests and to all these interests he has given careful study and thought. A tireless student of modern world-movements, he has also found time to make himself an authority on one of the important divisions of ornithology.

Dr. Bradley is a member of the Chicago Association of Commerce and recently gave two addresses before that organization. He is also a member of the Chicago Rotary Club and is actively interested in its enterprises. In the last two years he has spoken five times to the Rotarians of Chicago.

At least once a year, he speaks before the Chicago Kiwanis Club, to which he has belonged for some time, and he has given twenty-eight addresses to the members of the Tuesday Art and Travel Club of Chicago. This is the record number of appearances by any one lecturer before this or any other one club in Chicago.

Dr. Bradley maintains the “Preston Bradley Oratorical Prize,” for the students of Ellsworth College, Iowa Falls, Iowa, and he offers a similar prize at Hamelin University, Minneapolis.

He is a member of the Chicago Art Institute, Chicago Press Club, the Authors Club of London, and the Arts Club of New York City.

Dr. Bradley has traveled widely and is a writer of ability.

“The United States of Tomorrow”

This is the title of the lecture which Dr. Bradley generally delivers to Lyceum audiences. It is a study of the great problems confronting the people of America today. Dr. Bradley has used this lecture title for a number of years but as problems change the lecture changes also, and each year sees practically a new lecture with the title remaining the same.

“The United States of Tomorrow” is a powerful address. In it Dr. Bradley gives the results of his study of vital questions and he sets forth his ideas so vividly and interestingly that he never fails to produce a profound impression.

This great lecture of Dr. Bradley’s is sure to be one of the strong attractions on any Lyceum course on which it may be given.

Biography from “Who’s Who in America”

Clergyman; b. Linden, Mich., s. Robert McFarlan and Anna Elizabeth (Warren) Bradley; grad. Linden High Sch., 1905; student Alma Coll., Mich., 1905-6; studied law, Flint, Mich., 1906-9; spl. work U. of Mich., 1909-10. Student Pastor Grand Blane Ch, Grand Blane, Mich., 1907-9; student pastor Ch. of Providence (Presbyn.), Chicago, 1911-12; withdrew from Presbyn. Ch. July 1, 1912, and began preaching independently; founded Peoples Ch. Chicago, July 5, 1912 (first meeting place cor. Clark and Addison Sts.; moved Oct 5, 1913 to Wilson Av. Theatre). Lecturer on drama, philosophy, art, and literature. Mem. Art Inst., Chicago, Little Theatre Soc., Drama League America, London State Soc. (Eng)., Phi Phi Alpha (Alma). Clubs: Chicago Press, Progressive, Playgoers. Address: Chicago Press Club, Chicago.
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