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Tributes pour in for Dr Billy Graham as veteran evangelist dies at 99

Church leaders across the world have been paying tribute to evangelist Dr Billy Graham, who died today aged 99.

He died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said.

In a 60-year career, he is estimated to have preached to hundreds of millions of people, and seen at least three million make a decision to follow Jesus.

Graham reached millions of them through TV – the first to use the medium to convey the Christian message on that scale.  

He also famously brought a series of high profile ‘crusade’ evangelism events to London in the 1950s, where many of today’s UK church leaders found faith, and continued to regularly preach in Britain via major football stadium gatherings and TV link-ups, most notably with Mission England in the 1980s.

“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.”

Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, said: “History will recall that Billy Graham was one of the most influential men of his generation. I was profoundly influenced by his life and ministry from afar. Beside a lake, in large auditoriums and through broadcasts, or watching him on TV – one could not help but be impacted by his passion for God, his commitment to the truth of the gospel and his life of integrity lived under intense media scrutiny.

“The ministry of Billy Graham in the UK and the Evangelical Alliance have been uniquely intertwined in the second half of the 20th century, since the events at Harringay arena in 1954. I am sure that his legacy will live on."

The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Loraine N Mellor and Jill Baker, have offered their condolences to the family of Billy Graham.

The President said: “We send our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Billy Graham, without doubt one of the greatest evangelists of the last century. He shared the love of Jesus Christ to millions around the world.”

Messages from the leaders of Methodist Central Hall can be found at https://methodist-central-hall.org.uk/billy-graham-methodist-central-hall/ - the photo right shows the evangelist preaching there in 1964.

And the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has set up a memorial website at https://memorial.billygraham.org/

Billy Graham concluded his autobiography “God’s Ambassador”, with these words: “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.”

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