1868-1953
portrait

February 10, 1868, Waukon, Iowa.

August 2, 1953, Denver, Colorado.

Oakwood Cemetery, Warsaw, Indiana.

illustration

[Lyon] completed the high school course at the age of 13 and soon after moved with his parents to Humboldt, in the northwestern part of Iowa, where he spent a year in a lawyer’s office, preparing a set of county abstract books. His father having engaged in the hardware business, young Lyon spent more than four years clerking in the store; working at the bench in the tin shop, and during the last two years of this time had special charge of the collection of the accounts and the purchase of goods.

During these years, while he was out of school, young Milford had an ambition to return to his studies, but the way did not open up until the autumn of 1887, when his father having sold the store, he started to Iowa City and entered the academy. Doing two years’ work in one, he completed the academic course the following June, and the next fall entered the state university. During the succeeding four years he earned his entire expenses by teaching mathematics in the academy and working as traveling salesman during the summer season, selling goods for an Iowa city factory.

It is evident that he did not waste much time in those years, for he landed first in scholarship in his class of fifty for the entire course. And he also spent much time in extra literary work, engaging in the university oratorical contest, where he won first place, and then in the state oratorical contest he won first honors over the prize contestants from fourteen other colleges. And then, in the interstate contest at Lincoln, Nebraska, he received the highest marks ever given, being graded first by three judges, and second by a fourth judge. This was the same oratorical association in which Senator LaFoilette, of Wisconsin, and ex-Senator Beveridge, of Indiana, won highest honors a few years earlier.

It is evident that Dr. Lyon held the esteem and confidence of his college mates for during his senior year he was given the three highest university honors, the presidency of the leading literary society, the presidency of the Republican club and was also elected president of the university Y.M.C.A. Before his graduation he was elected as president of Ellsworth college, of Iowa Falls, Iowa, and entered upon his duties immediately upon finishing his university course. Here he remained for two years, directing the financial and executive management of the school, besides teaching Latin and literature.

Mr. Lyon had entered the university as a Unitarian, although reared in a Christian home, he had drifted into what he termed liberal thought, and for the first two years in college had been entirely indifferent to orthodox Christianity. It was during the visit of Mr. S. M. Sayford, of Boston, who for ten years worked among the students of American colleges, that Lyon came out into a definite faith in Christ and made a public confession of his belief. During the remainder of his college course he was active along religious lines, being chosen by the state Y.M.C.A. as a member of the state deputation, and by the international Y.M.C.A. to deliver the address at their national convention in Kansas City for the colleges of America. Mr. Lyon had entered college with the intention of studying for the law and going into politics, and having turned from this to teaching he felt more and more impressed with the needs and importance of the gospel ministry. At the close of his second year as college president he resigned his position to accept a call to the pastorate of the First congregational church of Harvey, Ill. After a year and a half here he accepted the pastorate of the Bethel church at Windsor Park, Chicago. During this pastorate the church membership was nearly doubled and a new building was erected. Feeling the great need of evangelistic work all over the land, Dr. Lyon decided to resign from his pastorate and enter what seemed to him a broader field of Christian endeavor. It would naturally seem a very perilous venture to resign from a successful pulpit and a good salary to start out, not knowing where, without any assurance of financial support for himself and family. Yet this is what Mr. Lyon did and it cannot help but make him smile when people say he entered evangelism for the money there was in it. Naturally he had to start in a small way, at first in single church meetings. but from that beginning his work has constantly grown. During the past fifteen years he has spoken more than seven thousand times in twenty-four states and has never missed a service on account of ill health. As a result of his work there have been at least a hundred thousand conversions. Having been a pastor Dr. Lyon naturally looks at evangelism from the standpoint of the men who are to remain on the field after the evangelist has left.

During the past year he has received more than twenty invitations from Indiana cities to conduct union campaigns. Four years ago the degree of doctor of divinity was conferred upon Dr. Lyon by Wheaton college in honor, said the resolution of the board of trustees, for his achievements in the Kingdom of God. He is the author of two books, the first of which, The Lordship of Jesus, has gone into the seventh edition. The later book, For the Life That Now Is, has reached the third edition. His ministry has centered especially about the supreme truth of the Kingship of Christ. It was at his suggestion that the publishers of the song book used in the meetings called the new book by the name which is the heart of Dr. Lyon’s ministry, Make Christ King. For fifteen years Dr. Lyon lived at Wheaton, Ill., but has recently built a home, Faerholm, at Winona Lake, Ind. In the autumn, after his graduation from the university, he married a college friend, Miss Effie Forest, of Miles, Iowa. They have five children, Merle Paul; the oldest, is a senior at Oberlin college. Helen is a member of the sophomore class at Oberlin. Arthur Eugene is a junior at Winona academy. The two younger children, Margaret, thirteen years old, and Ruth, seven years, are in the Winona public schools.

Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel
January 13, 1915

Lyon served as pastor at the Morgan Park Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois (1930-31); First Presbyterian Church, Daytona Beach, Florida (1932-39); director of the Winona Assembly, Winona Lake, Indiana (1915-20); president of the Inter-Denominational Association of Evangelists; and on the staff of the Young Men’s Christian Association with the Allied Expeditionary Force in France (1917-18).

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