Queen sends condolences to family of evangelist Billy Graham

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The Queen will send her condolences to the family of American evangelist Billy Graham, who has died aged 99.

The preacher met the Queen while visiting the UK during his missionary work, and she awarded him an honorary knighthood in 2001.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed the Queen will be sending a private message of condolence to Graham’s family, including his son and fellow evangelist Franklin Graham.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said Graham was an example to Christians worldwide and had “few equals”.

Graham, who had the ear of presidents and monarchs and reputedly preached to the most people in live sermons in history, died aged 99 at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday.

He spoke to thousands at arenas in the UK during his tours, often referred to as crusades, in the decades following his first visit in 1946.

American evangelist Billy Graham (second left) speaking to the Queen, and the Queen Mother, when he preached at Sandringham Parish Church (PA)
Billy Graham (second left) speaking to the Queen and the Queen Mother when he preached at Sandringham Parish Church (PA)

In 1996, after he stopped travelling because of Parkinson’s disease, an estimated 2.5 billion people around the world watched his first “televangelist” show, hosted by Sir Cliff Richard.

Graham met the Queen several times, including in 1984 when he preached at Sandringham Parish Church.

The Most Revd Justin Welby said the church owed Graham an “immeasurable” debt.

He said: “Dr Billy Graham stood as an exemplar to generation upon generation of modern Christians.

“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.

Sir Cliff Richard with US evangelist Billy Graham in 1967 (PA)
Sir Cliff Richard with Billy Graham in 1967 (PA)

“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.”

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu said Graham left a “legacy of changed lives and communities”.

He said: “So often throughout my life I have worked alongside those who have shared with me that their journey of faith in Christ began after hearing Billy Graham preach of the love of God for us sinners, and of Jesus’ power to change lives and lead us out of darkness into his marvellous light.

“Wherever people remember Billy Graham today, there will be gratitude for this faithful servant of Christ, for his bold witness, and for the legacy of changed lives and communities which continues to spread hope, transformation, and a living story of salvation today.”

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