OVER 2,000 guests gathered to honour Billy Graham on Friday in North Carolina. The congregation at the funeral of the internationally renowned preacher included President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
While Trump didn’t make a speech during the service, he said in a tribute ceremony for Graham at the Capitol on Wednesday that his father had taken the young Trump to hear Graham at the Yankee Stadium in 1957.
“And it was something very special,” said Trump.
“But Americans came in droves to hear that great young preacher. Fred Trump was a big fan. Fred Trump was my father,” he added.
The crowd filled ‘The Canvas Cathedral’ near The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, a tent set up to mark the US-based 1949 revival crusade where Graham first rose to prominence, when 350,000 people visited the white tent known as the ‘Canvas Cathedral’.
The evangelist was the first pastor to lie in honour in the US Capitol. Graham’s casket was on display from 28 February in the Capitol Rotunda through to 1 March. Former Presidents George W Bush, and Bill Clinton were among the thousands who paid their respects.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal last week, former president George WBush credited Graham for his decision to quit alcohol.
“God’s work within me began in earnest with Billy’s outreach,” he wrote.
“His care and his teachings were the real beginning of my faith walk — and the start of the end of my drinking. I couldn’t have given up alcohol on my own. But in 1986, at 40, I finally found the strength to quit. That strength came from love I had felt from my earliest days and from faith I didn’t fully discover until my later years,” he added.
The polling consultancy, Gallup, recently reported that the Rev Billy Graham has appeared on Gallup’s Top 10 ‘Most Admired Men’ 61 times, and more than any other man or woman since the poll started in 1948.
He first appeared on the list in 1955, held the number 2 spot eight times between 1969-1974, (and again 1997-1999) not dropping out of the top 10 until 1962.
Between 1948-2017, Billy Graham appeared 61 times. The next most popular on the ‘Most Admired’ list was Queen Elizabeth II, appearing 49 times, Margaret Thatcher (34), Ronald Reagan (31), and Oprah Winfrey (30), just three points up from Pope John Paul II (27).
The organisation said that a poll conducted in 2005, found that 85 per cent of Americans said they had seen the evangelist on the TV at some point, while 52 per cent had heard him on the radio, and 16 per centre ported to have seen him in person.