Evangelist Billy Graham to mark 95th birthday with message to America
Evangelist Billy Graham’s voice is softer and his body weaker, but the man who helped transform Christianity in America and counseled U.S. presidents will reach out to the nation on his 95th birthday in an effort to revitalize the church.
Graham, who has not preached publicly since 2006 because of frail health, has filmed a public message to air on national television on his November 7 birthday, giving fans a rare and possibly final opportunity to see the man dubbed “America’s Pastor.”
“Our country is in great need of a spiritual awakening,” Graham says in a program titled “The Cross.” “With all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth.”
Graham’s message is at the heart of what the Charlotte, North Carolina-based association bearing his name calls its largest evangelism effort in the United States in its 63-year history.
It comes at a time when most U.S. evangelical leaders say they are losing influence, studies show Americans increasingly do not identify with any religion and many young people are unaware of Graham’s legacy.
“The students that I teach don’t really know who Billy Graham is,” said Anne Wills, a religion professor at Davidson College outside of Charlotte. “They don’t have any idea about the scope of his influence.”