Graham, Billy

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Graham, Billy

Billy Graham (William Franklin Graham) (grā´əm), 1918–, American evangelist, b. Charlotte, N.C., grad. Wheaton College (B.A., 1943). Graham was ordained a minister in the Southern Baptist Church (1939), was the pastor of a Chicago church (his first and last pastorate), and in 1944 became an evangelist for the American Youth for Christ movement. In 1949 he received national attention for an extended evangelical campaign in Los Angeles. He subsequently made preaching tours (for which he popularized the term "crusade" ) in most major U.S. cities and in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, Australia, and Russia. His reputation made him a favored guest among politicians and presidents. Graham, who in his preaching has consistently stressed personal conversion and scriptural authority, is identified with the conservative Protestant movement known as neo-evangelicalism (see fundamentalism) and is to a large degree responsible for establishing it as part of the American mainstream. He is also the co-founder of the journal Christianity Today. The Billy Graham Evangelical Association, founded in the early 1950s, publishes Decision magazine and produces programs for radio, television, and screen. Graham retired as head of the association in 2000; Franklin Graham, his son, succeeded him as its leader. Billy Graham held his final crusade in 2004.

See his autobiography, Just as I Am (1997); biographies by W. C. McLaughlin (1960), M. Frady (1979), and W. Martin (1991); study by S. P. Miller (2009).

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