|Short Name:||Lance B. Latham|
|Full Name:||Latham, Lance B., 1894-1985|
Lance Brenton Latham, 1894-1985
Born: March 21, 1894, Dentonville, Pennsylvania.
Died: January 15, 1985, Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
Buried: Ridgewood Cemetery, Glenview, Illinois.
Latham is best known as the co-founder of Awana® Clubs International. But in Christian music circles, "Doc" was renowned for his music ministry. He displayed a propensity for music at an early age, starting lessons at age three. He was soon playing songs by heart, as his mother called out page numbers from a hymn book. After he graduated from college at age 17, music took center stage in his life. He received piano training from Mauritz Leefson, director of the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, and earned critical and popular praise performing throughout the Philadelphia area. His rising musical career played a part in his salvation decision. At age 21, he was invited to play for William Nicholson’s evangelistic crusade in Chester, Pennsylvania. On Sept. 18, 1915, after hearing one of Nicholson’s Gospel presentations, the young prodigy received Christ as his Savior.
Following conversion, Latham began putting his musical gifts to use composing hymns. He soon was "discovered" by Paul Rader, America’s first nationwide radio preacher. Rader hired Latham to join the musical staff at Moody Tabernacle and to travel with him on evangelistic crusades. When Rader became pastor at the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle in 1922, he invited Latham to serve as an associate. Latham later organized a musical group called the White Shirt Brigade. This all boy choir performed and taught at churches throughout the Midwest and South. He also was affectionately dubbed with the nickname "Doc" for an outfit he once wore to a youth club masquerade party. One member of the Brigade was Art Rorheim, who later became Awana® co-founder with Latham.
In 1934, Latham became pastor of a new church, the North Side Gospel Center in Chicago, Illinois. He served there for 40 years. During his days as pastor, Latham drew huge crowds to his "dueling pianos" concerts at the Gospel Center.