News outlets are reporting this morning that the Reverend Billy Graham has died at the age of 99. The Washington Post reports that he was found in his home in Montreat, N.C.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
[Graham] long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, according to the AP.
Graham reached more than 200 million through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio. Unlike many traditional evangelists, he abandoned narrow fundamentalism to engage broader society.
Graham was born on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Nov. 7, 1918.
From The New York Times:
Mr. Graham spread his influence across the country and around the world through a combination of religious conviction, commanding stage presence and shrewd use of radio, television and advanced communication technologies.
A central achievement was his encouraging evangelical Protestants to regain the social influence they had once wielded, reversing a retreat from public life that had begun when their efforts to challenge evolution theory were defeated in the Scopes trial in 1925.
But in his later years, Mr. Graham kept his distance from the evangelical political movement he had helped engender, refusing to endorse candidates and avoiding the volatile issues dear to religious conservatives.
“If I get on these other subjects, it divides the audience on an issue that is not the issue I’m promoting,” he said in an interview at his home in North Carolina in 2005 while preparing for his last American crusade, in New York City. “I’m just promoting the Gospel.”
By 2005, Graham had preached 417 crusades. From the Religion News Service:
Over his many years of ministry, Graham preached to an estimated 84 million people at his crusades around the world. When non-crusade events are included, that figure grows to 110 million, and nearly doubles to 215 million including live audiences reached via satellite.
Graham, touted as one of the world’s most famous religious leaders, often tried to turn attention away from himself. He said whenever he was asked to name the finest Christian he ever met, his response was always, “my wife, Ruth,” who died on June 14, 2007. At her funeral, he said he looked forward to joining his wife of more than 63 years in heaven.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has published a memorial site here.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has released a statement, which we’ve published on the Cafe site here.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, quoted in Anglican News:
“Dr Billy Graham stood as an exemplar to generation upon generation of modern Christians,” Archbishop Justin Welby said. “When it comes to a living and lasting influence upon the worldwide church he can have few equals: for he introduced person after person to Jesus Christ. There are countless numbers who began their journey of faith because of Dr Graham.
“The debt owed by the global church to him is immeasurable and inexpressible. Personally I am profoundly grateful to God for the life and ministry of this good and faithful servant of the gospel; by his example he challenged all Christians to imitate how he lived and what he did.
“He was one who met presidents and preachers, monarchs and musicians, the poor and the rich, the young and the old, face to face. Yet now he is face to face with Jesus Christ, his saviour and ours. It is the meeting he has been looking forward to for the whole of his life.”
Billy Graham was a humble servant who prayed for so many – and who, with wisdom and grace, gave hope and guidance to generations of Americans.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 21, 2018
RIP #BillyGraham, a towering figure in American history, who would no doubt prefer to be remembered for what he truly was: a good Christian. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” pic.twitter.com/8geWnVtjv2
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) February 21, 2018
Probably not too much to say that Billy Graham invented late-modern, globalized evangelicalism. RIP.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) February 21, 2018
Billy Graham’s faithfulness and grace in the midst of worldwide fame is an example from which all of us can draw inspiration. An imperfect but devoted servant whose preaching pointed so many to Jesus. Celebrating his presence with the Risen Christ today.
— Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) February 21, 2018
“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” – Billy Graham
— Jonathan Merritt (@JonathanMerritt) February 21, 2018
More will be added today.
By the White House from Washington, DC – P042510PS-0042, Public Domain
By the White House photo office – reagan.utexas.edu, Public Domain