Evangelist Dr. Billy Graham Passes: Local, State & National Reactions

Evangelist Dr. Billy Graham passed away today at 7:46 a.m. at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. He was 99.

Reactions both locally, statewide and nationally are coming in via social media. Content will be updated throughout the day.

*Updated with funeral and visitation information*

Rev. Billy Graham to Lie in Honor in U.S. Capitol Rotunda
February 22, 2018|Speaker Ryan Press Office
WASHINGTON—On Wednesday, February 28, the late Rev. Billy Graham will be brought to the U.S. Capitol, where he will lie in honor in the Rotunda until Thursday, March 1. Members of the public and Capitol Hill community are invited to pay their respects to the late reverend while he lies in rest. Further logistical information and media guidance will be issued in the coming days.

Upon the arrival of Rev. Graham’s casket, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will take part in a bicameral service.

During a press conference on Wednesday evening it was announced that:

On Saturday a motorcade will transport Graham’s body from The Cove in Asheville to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.

The body will lie in repose at the library for at least two days starting Monday, Feb. 26. The line will be open to the public from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

The private and by invitation only funeral will be held on Friday March 2 at noon Friday, in a tent by the Billy Graham Library.

Dr. Graham will be buried beside his wife, Ruth, at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Prayer Garden, on the northeast side of Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.

Dr. Graham’s casket was made by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in 2006. Franklin Graham preached at Angola in 2005, and, upon learning that inmates had built caskets for other inmates who died in prison, he asked if they could make one for his mother and father.

A floral arrangement of white lilies in the shape of a cross will accompany Graham’s casket.

Statement by the President on the Passing of Reverend Billy Graham from The White House:

Melania and I join millions of people around the world in mourning the passing of Billy Graham. Our prayers are with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who worked closely with Reverend Graham in his lifelong ministry.

Billy’s acceptance of Jesus Christ around his seventeenth birthday not only changed his life—it changed our country and the world. He was one of the towering figures of the last 100 years—an American hero whose life and leadership truly earned him the title “God’s Ambassador.”

Billy’s unshakeable belief in the power of God’s word to transform hearts gave hope to all who listened to his simple message: “God loves you.” He carried this message around the world through his crusades, bringing entire generations to faith in Jesus Christ.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks in 2001, America turned to Billy Graham at the National Cathedral, who told us, “God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.”

Reverend Graham would be the first to say that he did not do it alone. Before her passing, his wife Ruth was by his side through it all—a true partner, a wonderful mother, and a fellow missionary soul. He also built an international team and institution that will continue to carry on Christ’s message.

Melania and I were privileged to get to know Reverend Graham and his extraordinary family over the last several years, and we are deeply grateful for their love and support.

Billy Graham was truly one of a kind. Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds will miss him dearly. We are thinking of him today, finally at home in Heaven.

WASHINGTON – Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) offered the following statement in regard to the death of Reverend Billy Graham:

“Mark 16:15 of the Good Book instructs us to, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’ This is a charge that Reverend Graham took seriously and a charge which he spent a lifetime endeavoring to obey. Reverend Graham will be remembered by millions of people for millions of reasons – this is a testament to the lives he touched. From advising many Commanders-in-Chief as America’s pastor, to preaching the gospel to the masses, the Reverend Graham was compassionate and served as a blessed shepherd through the years. Reverend Graham will be remembered as a talented, inspiring and dedicated North Carolinian. While I was saddened to learn of Reverend Graham’s passing, I rejoice that he has gone to join the Lord whom he loved so dearly.”

Former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

Video posted by Grandfather Mountain with the description: On August 5, 1962, Dr. Billy Graham spoke at the 38th Annual “Singing On The Mountain” at Grandfather Mountain, NC. This film from that historic day features approximately fourteen minutes of Dr. Graham’s sermon, which was heard by one of the largest crowds ever to gather in Western North Carolina.

Statement from Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:

Throughout his life, Billy Graham preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to some 215 million people who attended one of his more than 400 Crusades, simulcasts and evangelistic rallies in more than 185 countries and territories. He reached millions more through TV, video, film, the internet and 34 books.

Born Nov. 7, 1918, four days before the armistice ended World War I, William Franklin “Billy” Graham Jr. grew up during the Depression and developed a work ethic that would carry him through decades of ministry on six continents.

“I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins,” said Graham at his final Crusade in June 2005 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in New York.

While Graham’s primary focus was to take this message to the world, he also provided spiritual counsel to presidents, championed desegregation, and was a voice of hope and guidance in times of trial. In 2001, he comforted his country and the world when he spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At three global conferences held in Amsterdam (1983, 1986, 2000), Graham gathered some 23,000 evangelists from 208 countries and territories to train them to carry the message of Jesus Christ around the world.

During the week of his 95th birthday in 2013, Billy Graham delivered his final message via more than 480 television stations across the U.S. and Canada. More than 26,000 churches participated in this My Hope project, making it the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s largest evangelistic outreach ever in North America.

PREFERRED BASEBALL TO RELIGION

Graham, a country boy turned world evangelist, who prayed with every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama, was raised on a dairy farm in Charlotte. Back then, “Billy Frank,” as he was called, preferred baseball to religion. “I detested going to church,” he said when recalling his youth.

But in 1934, that changed. At a revival led by traveling evangelist Mordecai Fowler Ham, 15-year-old Graham committed his life to serving Jesus Christ. No one was more surprised than Graham himself.

“I was opposed to evangelism,” he said. “But finally, I was persuaded by a friend [to go to a meeting]…and the spirit of God began to speak to me as I went back night after night. One night, when the invitation was given to accept Jesus, I just said, ‘Lord, I’m going.’ I knew I was headed in a new direction.”

Several years later, Graham’s “new direction” led him to the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College of Florida), and later, Wheaton College in suburban Chicago, where he met fellow student Ruth McCue Bell, the daughter of medical missionaries in China. The couple graduated and married in the summer of 1943. Mr. and Mrs. Graham and their five children made their home in the mountains of North Carolina. They were married 64 years before Ruth’s death in 2007.

After two years of traveling as a speaker for the Youth for Christ organization, Billy Graham held his first official evangelistic Crusade in 1947; but it was his 1949 Los Angeles Crusade that first captured the nation’s attention. Originally scheduled to run for three weeks, the “tent meetings” were extended for a total of eight weeks as hundreds of thousands of men, women and children gathered to hear Graham’s messages.

On the heels of this campaign, Graham started the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which was incorporated in 1950. Since 2000, Graham’s son, Franklin, has led the Charlotte-based organization, which employs some 500 people worldwide.

Billy Graham may be best known, however, for his evangelistic missions or “Crusades.” He believed God knew no borders or nationalities. Throughout his career, Graham preached to millions in locations from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Zagorsk, Russia; and from Wellington, New Zealand to the National Cathedral in Washington. In 1973, Graham addressed more than one million people crowded into Yoido Plaza in Seoul, South Korea—the largest live audience of his Crusades.

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

Preaching in Johannesburg in 1973, Graham said, “Christ belongs to all people. He belongs to the whole world.…I reject any creed based on hate…Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black.”

Graham spoke to people of all ethnicities, creeds and backgrounds. Early in his career, he denounced racism when desegregation was not popular. Before the U.S. Supreme Court banned discrimination on a racial basis, Graham held desegregated Crusades, even in the Deep South. He declined invitations to speak in South Africa for 20 years, choosing instead to wait until the meetings could be integrated. Integration occurred in 1973, and only then did Graham make the trip to South Africa.

A 1977 trip to communist-led Hungary opened doors for Graham to conduct preaching missions in virtually every country of the former Eastern Bloc (including the Soviet Union), as well as China and North Korea.

Graham authored 34 books, including his memoir, Just As I Am (Harper Collins, 1997), which remained on The New York Times best-seller list for 18 weeks.

In 1996, Graham and his wife, Ruth, received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress can bestow on a private citizen. He was also listed by Gallup as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men” 61 times—including 55 consecutive years (except 1976, when the question was not asked). Graham was cited by the George Washington Carver Memorial Institute for his contributions to race relations and by the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith.

Throughout his life, Graham was faithful to his calling, which will be captured in the inscription to be placed on his grave marker: Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

“There were a few times when I thought I was dying, and I saw my whole life come before me…” said Graham at his Cincinnati Crusade on June 24, 2002. “I didn’t say to the Lord, ‘I’m a preacher, and I’ve preached to many people.’ I said, ‘Oh Lord, I’m a sinner, and I still need Your forgiveness. I still need the cross.’ And I asked the Lord to give me peace in my heart, and He did—a wonderful peace that hasn’t left me.”

Billy Graham is survived by his sister Jean Ford; daughters GigiAnne and Ruth; sons Franklin and Ned; 19 grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren. His wife, Ruth, died June 14, 2007, at age 87, and is buried at the Billy Graham Library. A private funeral service is planned at the Billy Graham Library, on a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts for the ongoing ministry of evangelism at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association may be made online at BillyGraham.org or mailed to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201. Notes of remembrance can be posted at BillyGraham.org.

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