It is with heavy and grateful hearts that we mark the passing of Billy Graham. Heavy for the loss sustained by his loved ones and the church by his absence, yet inexpressibly grateful for the legacy that he leaves behind.
Billy Graham exemplified the best of the evangelical tradition: an uncompromising yet winsome conviction in the goodness of a saving God, a deep and abiding compassion for all people, and a driving passion to love both God and neighbor with everything in him.
It was this singular commitment to the gospel that drove him to integrate his crusades in the late 1950s; to speak out against nuclear armament at the height of the Cold War; and to form the Lausanne Movement for World Evangelism, a core conviction of which is that the good news of the gospel extends to all of creation and calls us to care for and steward God’s good world. It also enabled him to have the humility to admit when he was wrong, to seek forgiveness, and to strive toward ever deeper faithfulness.
At a time when American evangelicalism is being given over to its lesser demons of pride, fear, and exclusion, the compassion, acceptance, and humility of Billy Graham stand as a clarion call to again remember our better angels.
As young church leaders, we are ever cognizant of the shoulders on which we stand. Today, we feel afresh those broad shoulders beneath our feet of one of our tradition’s greatest giants. We remember, we give thanks, and we pick up the mantle to journey ever onward.