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Torrey was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on 28 January 1856. He graduated from Yale University in 1875 and Yale Divinity School in 1878. Following graduation, Torrey became a Congregational minister in Garrettsville, Ohio, in 1878. The following year, he married Clara Smith; the Torreys subsequently had five children.
After further studies in theology at Leipzig University and Erlangen University in 1882-1883, Torrey joined Dwight L. Moody in his evangelistic work in Chicago in 1889, and became superintendent of the Bible Institute of the Chicago Evangelization Society (now Moody Bible Institute). Five years later, he became pastor of the Chicago Avenue Church (now the Moody Church) in 1894.
In 1898, Torrey served as a chaplain with the YMCA at Camp Chicamauga during the Spanish-American War. Later, during World War I, he performed similar service at Camp Bowie (a POW camp in Texas) and Camp Kearny.
In 1902-1903, he preached in nearly every part of the English-speaking world and with song leader Charles McCallon Alexander conducted revival services in Great Britain from 1903 to 1905. During this period, he also visited China, Japan, Australia, and India. Torrey conducted a similar campaign in American and Canadian cities in 1906-1907. Throughout these campaigns, Torrey used a meeting style that he borrowed from Moody's campaigns of the 1870s. In 1907, he accepted an honorary doctorate from Wheaton College.
In 1912, Torrey was persuaded to build another institution like Moody Bible Institute, and from 1912 to 1924, he served as Dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) and contributed to the BIOLA publication, The King's Business. Beginning in 1915, he served as the first pastor of the Church of the Open Door, Los Angeles. Torrey was one of the three editors of The Fundamentals, a 12-volume series that gave its name to what came to be called "fundamentalism".
Torrey held his last evangelistic meeting in Florida in 1927, additional meetings being canceled because of his failing health. He died at home in Asheville, North Carolina, on October 26, 1928, having preached throughout the world and written more than 40 books.
Torrey-Gray Auditorium, the main auditorium at Moody, was named for Torrey and his successor, James M. Gray. At Biola, the Torrey Honors Institute honors him, as does the university's annual Bible conference. (wikipedia.org)