“Favorite son” celebrates 95th birthday today


Posted: Nov 07, 2013 7:36 AM EST Updated: Nov 07, 2013 7:43 AM EST

By Steve Ohnesorge – bio | email

No matter where the Reverend Billy Graham went to preach, be it across the Tar Heel State or around the world, he always came home to this little town with a stone archway at the city limits.

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  • Fun facts you probably don’t know about Rev. Billy Graham

    • He was kicked out of a youth group at a Charlotte Presbyterian Church because he was “too worldly.”His father made him drink beer until he got sick and it had such an impact on him that he abstained from alcohol for the rest of his life
    • When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was jailed during a civil rights protest in 1963, Graham paid King’s bail.
    • Billy Graham held a four night crusade in Bank of America (Ericsson) Stadium in late September 1996. Earlier, in August, Graham dedicated the stadium from the 50 yard line. Originally given a standing ovation, he got “scattered boos” when he said he had developed a friendship with Dallas Cowboys former coach Tom Landry.
    • Graham also dedicated the old Charlotte Coliseum (Hornets) in 1988. He stood under the scoreboard and offered a prayer of dedication. The next day the scoreboard crashed to the floor.
    • President Nixon offered Graham the job of ambassador to Israel. He refused.
    • He was honored by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001 as an honorary Knight Commander (KBE) of the Order of the British Empire for “60 years of international contribution to civic and religious life.”

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Montreat has been his home for decades and people in the community are proud to call him one of their own.

“It’s great to have a favorite son,” said one man as he hiked in a town park near the archway.

Graham not only has his home in Montreat, but he and his late wife Ruth had another vision for some property not far away.

The Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove was designed to “Train people in God’s word to win others to Christ,” said Jill Gottenstrater.

It was back in the 1970’s she says, that Graham came across the property near Black Mountain.

25 years ago it was finished and has been a place for retreats and seminars ever since.

“It certainly has changed my life,” said Kay Withington, who volunteers at the site.

The impact has been widespread, said officials. Many thousands have gone through courses and special training at The Cove and officials believe, turn, that has touched tenfold more people.

Program Director Darren Thomas says it is Graham’s legacy.

“When he does go

Program Director Darren Thomas says it is Graham’s legacy.

“When he does go to be with the Lord in heaven we’ll be carrying on his legacy of sharing the gospel just like he taught us.”

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