Local pastors discuss Billy Graham’s impact

Holly Viers • Feb 21, 2018 at 5:30 PM

KINGSPORT — The local and national faith community was shaken on Wednesday morning by the death of well-known Christian evangelist Billy Graham.

Graham, who was 99, was a household name for many decades. He was best known for his rousing sermons, or crusades, that were televised across the country, exposing millions of people to Christianity.

Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina, spokesman Mark DeMoss told The Associated Press.

The Times News spoke with local pastors on Wednesday to get their thoughts on Graham’s impact.

Marvin Cameron, pastor of First Baptist Church

“All of us know about the global impact that Billy Graham had on the world. I was blessed to know of a personal story that told me even more about the depth of his personal character. When I was a teenager in Charlotte, North Carolina, our next door neighbor was the widow of the pastor of the Presbyterian church in the community. She had also been an elementary school teacher of Billy Graham. When he was in town for a crusade, we noticed a visitor next door. Mr. Graham had taken time from his hectic crusade week schedule to visit his now-elderly teacher. It was the high moment of her later years. Needless to say, it left an impact on me that I remember 45 years later. Though he was comfortable in the presence of presidents, he never forgot those who made a difference in his life.”

Will Shewey, pastor of Shades of Grace United Methodist Church

“Rev. Billy Graham is affectionately remembered as America’s pastor. He followed the path of Jesus with humility, servitude and integrity. His was a simple message of grace and redemption.”

Kemper Huber, interim pastor of First Presbyterian Church

“He has certainly been a model for many ministers. We can all strive to reflect the passion that he had and the quality of his ministry and how truthful he was and how above reproach he held himself and his whole ministry. He’s certainly been a model for many, many people that are in the ministry today.”

Harrison Bell, associate pastor of First Broad Street United Methodist Church

“Billy Graham has influenced generations of Christians. Every person probably knows someone who has been deeply touched through the ministry of Billy Graham and continues to be. I remember reading a quote, something I was thinking about this (Wednesday) morning, when I found out he had passed. I think the quote is, ‘My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through this world,’ and that’s an attitude that I try to live every day. I think that’s an attitude that a lot of Christians try to embrace, that we are all just visitors of this world, and we are really sojourners in this world, that we are people whose home is not here. So with that in mind, it influences how we live our lives every single day.”

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