PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Feb. 22, 2018) -- Bishop Dindy Taylor is one of many in Holston Conference expressing admiration for Christian evangelist Billy Graham, who died Feb. 21 in Montreat, North Carolina, at age 99.
Taylor was attending Ministers Convocation in Pigeon Forge when she heard the news and commented on the nation's loss. “He has had such an impact that he transcends denominations,” she said. “His is a life well lived so there’s a sadness but at the same time, there’s a celebration.”
Taylor said she had heard Graham’s grandson, Will Graham, speak at MeadowView Convention Center in Kingsport this past fall.
“He talked about his grandfather and said that he was weak enough that only family were visiting him. So it’s not a surprise that he has transitioned from this life to the next,” she said. “But he has impacted so many lives that we know this is not the end for him. Billy Graham is reunited with the Lord that he has followed faithfully and with his dear wife, Ruth.“
The son of a North Carolina farmer, Graham preached to millions in stadiums and became a pastor to U.S. presidents.
He reportedly preached at Holston's Charleston United Methodist Church in 1936, while he was a student at Bob Jones College, which was then located in Cleveland, Tennessee.
While the evangelist never addressed General Conference, United Methodist News Service reported that he did speak at a few United Methodist events, "including at least one at Lake Junaluska Assembly, not far from his home in the Western North Carolina mountains.”
“No voice or message in the past half century has been more powerful and faithful in pointing clearly to Christ,” said the Rev. Eddie Fox, one of several United Methodists interviewed by UMNS regarding Graham's death. Fox is a native of Holston Conference and retired leader of World Evangelism for the World Methodist Council.
Other Holston pastors also commented on Graham’s passing on social media:
DARREN KITTS: "Our nation and the church universal has lost a Godly man, who called us to seek God first and foremost. Rest in peace, Rev. Billy Graham."
MEG TAYLOR: "Thanking the Lord for Rev. Billy Graham who joined his wife, Ruth, in heaven this morning. Because of Ruth, I became a believer in Christ while a student at Montreat College."
CHRIS BROWN: "Thank you, Billy Graham, for your witness and service for the Gospel. (Picture is my father interviewing him back in the late 90s. It was one of Dad's favorite interviews of his career.)"
RONNIE COLLINS: "Sad to hear the news that Billy Graham has died and yet happy he is now home. Thank God for his ministry and his example of a Godly man. I remember watching and listening to Rev. Graham from the time I was old enough to understand anything."
JOSH KILBOURNE: "RIP, Rev. Billy Graham. Your focus on Christ and seeking to help others know Him is an inspiration. We need to learn from your example for reaching out to people from different backgrounds and perspectives. The world needs bridge builders and kingdom builders like you."
TERRI JOHNSON GREGORY: "The lord has lost a Giant Man of God. But oh so thankful for his work to build the Kingdom on Earth!"
NATALIE JUSTICE: "Rest in peace, Reverend Billy Graham. He was used greatly by God to do wonderful and amazing things. Truly an incredible person."
RANCE EDWARDS: "A light has gone out in this world, Billy Graham. He lived his life pointing to the true light, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Thank you, God, for that life!"
BUZZ TREXLER: "Baby boomers like me cannot remember a time when Billy Graham was not preaching the Gospel. I feel sure he heard the words, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"
RICHARD RICHTER: "Rest in peace, Billy Graham, America's pastor. You were inspiration in how you grew in grace through your ministry."
Contact Annette Spence at annettespence@Holston.org.
Graham influenced many United Methodists (UMNS, 2.21.18)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.