Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Billy Graham Library and Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove

Billy Graham and Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show
The thing that surprised me most at the Billy Graham Library was a video of Graham being interviewed by Woody Allen on the topic of premarital sex. It's difficult, nearly impossible, to imagine Ricky Gervais having a serious conversation with Tim Keller or Will Farrell with T.D. Jakes. But back in the day, Graham was regularly interviewed on news programs and talk shows.

Recently, in talking with a teenager who had never heard of Billy Graham. I assured the teen that in the next few years Billy Graham would die, and that his passing would be a huge news story because Graham was rivaled only by a few popes and Martin Luther King as the most influential religious figure of the last century. (Graham once said one of the greatest regrets of his life was not having King stand with him on a crusade platform. The men were friends, but both were afraid the controversy caused by appearing together would distract from their messages.)

Billy Graham library and home place
The Billy Graham Library tells the story of the evangelist's life from his early days on the family dairy (apparently he grew up with talking cows*) to his days of meeting with Presidents. Graham first came to national prominence through his revival meetings in Los Angeles (the museum makes no mention of William Randolph Hearst's famous command to his papers to "Puff Graham.").

Call center at The Cove
Graham appeared to millions of people through his more than half a century in ministry, and millions more saw his television appearances. His televised messages still reach many (we saw one of the call centers at the Cove which receives calls from viewers who have listened to one of Graham's televised crusade messages and, as a result, desire to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.)

Entrance to The Cove
Graham's wife, Ruth, died in 2007, but his children, especially Anne and Franklin, carry on his ministry. We heard from volunteers and staff at the Cove that Billy Graham (at age 97) is losing his hearing and sight, but his mind is still sharp. He still continues the policy he began at the beginning of his ministry of never being alone with a woman other than his wife or daughters. Two nurses are always in attendance.

memorial chapel at the Cove
Since 1955, Graham has appeared on Gallup's list of most admired people 59 times, more than anyone else. Add us to the long list of admirers. 

walk through the neon crosses to the Thomas Kinkaide painting
The Billy Graham Library is in Charlotte, NC. It's open Monday through Saturday, 9:30-5:00

Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove is in Asheville, NC. It's a retreat center with a variety of classes and seminars available, mostly on weekends. Chatios Memorial Chapel, which also has historical information about Billy Graham's ministry, is open to visitors Monday through Friday from 9:00 - 5:00 (the last tour starts at 4:00 pm) with shorter hours on Saturdays. 

information booth in the entrance to the Billy Graham Library
There is no charge to visit either place, although donations are accepted.

*At least that's the impression we got from Bessie here:
Bessie the talking cow at the Billy Graham Library