US evangelist Reverend Billy Graham dies aged 99

skynews-billy-graham-evangelist_4236819.jpg

The firebrand preacher pioneered the use of prime-time telecasts, radio shows and satellite TV links in 70 years in the pulpit.

US evangelist Reverend Billy Graham has died at his home in North Carolina at the age of 99, a spokesman has said.

Mr Graham counselled presidents and preached to millions around the world from his native North Carolina during 70 years in the pulpit.

He died at around 8am EST (1pm GMT) at his home in Montreat, according to Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

He had been suffering from cancer and pneumonia, spokesman Mark DeMoss said.

 

In a statement, President Donald Trump said: “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 Graham was truly one of a kind.”

Ex-president Barack Obama tweeted: “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.”

According to his ministry, Mr Graham preached to more people than anyone else in history either in person or through TV shows and satellite links.

He was dubbed “America’s pastor” and was a confidant of former presidents from General Dwight Eisenhower to George W Bush.

 Billy Graham pictured during a sermon in the early 1950s
Image:Billy Graham pictured during a sermon in the early 1950s

In 1983, President Reagan gave Mr Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour.

He pioneered the use of prime-time telecasts, network radio, newspaper columns, evangelistic feature films and satellite TV links with his catch phrase “the Bible says”.

Born on 7 November, 1918, on his family’s dairy farm near Charlotte, Mr Graham came from a fundamentalist background.

But he rejected that view to join New Evangelicalism which abandoned the narrowness of fundamentalism to engage broader society.

:: Tributes to Billy Graham

Billy Graham was a confidant of Presidents and was dubbed 'America's pastor'.
Image:Billy Graham was a confidant of Presidents and was dubbed ‘America’s pastor’.

He was ordained in 1939, after attending Florida Bible Institute, and founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950.

He became a rising star after a 1949 Los Angeles revival, when publisher William Randolph Hearst ordered his reporters to cover the new preacher who was speaking in a “canvas cathedral”.

Mr Graham said he never found out why the reporters had been told to “hype” him.

Over the next few decades his crusades drew millions to hear him speak. In London, more than two million people came to listen during a 12-week campaign in 1954.

Former US First Lady Nancy Reagan (L) and Reverend Billy Graham embrace during the gala dedication of the Ronald Reagan Building
Image:Former US First Lady Nancy Reagan (L) and Reverend Billy Graham embrace during the gala dedication of the Ronald Reagan Building

In New York, three years later, a six-week crusade had to be turned into 16 week crusade, including a rally in Times Square with more than 100,000 people in attendance.

Mr Graham and his wife Ruth Bell Graham had five children, two of whom are also ministers now. His daughter Anne Graham Lotz is a Christian author and speaker and son William Franklin Graham is now head of the BGEA.

His wife died in 2007. His daughter recalled that Mr Graham travelled so much she was almost a “single parent” and would sleep with his tweed jacket for comfort.

Evangelist Billy Graham addresses the audience from the stage during the Billy Graham Library Dedication Service
Image:Evangelist Billy Graham addresses the audience from the stage during the Billy Graham Library Dedication Service

Mrs Graham Lotz wrote a post in tribute entitled “Daddy is at home”.

In it, she wrote: “I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart.

“Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s. Who was interested in everything and everyone, from the small to the great.”

Mr Graham avoided any sex or money scandals by keeping meticulous watch over his staff and finances.

Dora Bryan (1923 - 2014), Billy Graham, and Cliff Richard, on the set of 'Two a Penny', 1967
Image:Dora Bryan (1923 – 2014), Billy Graham, and Cliff Richard, on the set of ‘Two a Penny’, 1967

He did come under fire for being too moderate during the civil rights movement, but ended segregated seating at his southern crusades in 1953, a year before the US Supreme Court ruled on it.

In a 2005 interview, he admitted he regretted not attending the Alabama march and wished he had done more for civil rights.

His closeness with presidents did sometimes backfire, and he said he had been disappointed when President Richard Nixon had lied to him about the Watergate scandal.

Source:Sky.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s