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Hawkins pastors to celebrate the life of Billy Graham on March 11

By REV. SHELDON LIVESAY • Mar 4, 2018 at 8:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County pastors met briefly last week to find some way to honor and offer tribute to Billy Graham, who was known as “America’s Pastor.”

It was decided to offer a “Celebration of His Life and Ministry.”

Pastor John Butler of East Rogersville Baptist Church called as many pastors as he knew to meet, and once it was determined that area churches needed to plan a tribute, they scheduled his celebration for Sunday night, March 11th.

The celebration will be held at the Rogersville First Baptist Church at 6 p.m.

Billy Graham is a household word around our nation. His has been called “America’s Pastor,” the minister to millions. Graham spread the gospel around the world for more than 5 decades. According to releases, he preached to 210 million souls in 185 countries over a career of more than 50 years.

The nation’s informal chaplain, he prayed with every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, and he offered invocations at nine presidential inaugurations.

But one-on-one, whether speaking to a U.S. president or a poor man, Graham came across as a kind-hearted man with a soft Southern drawl, courteous and compassionate. In 2002, behind the scenes at a crusade in Dallas, he rose stiffly from a sofa to greet reporters from a North Carolina paper.

He said, “I’m old” and apologized because his hands were becoming unsteady. But once behind his familiar spot on center stage, with his Bible spread on the podium, Graham’s voice never wavered.

After a half a century of preaching, his simple message of God’s love could still electrify thousands in the stands and bring hundreds to the field to accept Christ at the evening’s end. “When standing in the pulpit, he’s totally reliant on the Holy Spirit,” said David Bruce, Graham’s longtime executive assistant.

Year after year, decade after decade, his preaching brought millions down from stadium seats to make their commitment to Christ.

Many from Hawkins County remember making nightly trips to Knoxville to hear Graham, during a crusade in 1970. Local pastors are asking if people might identify themselves before March 11th if they found themselves in a crusade somewhere and through Graham’s message prayed to receive Jesus Christ.

Graham’s wife and longtime companion, Ruth, passed away in June, 2007.

But in spite of public recognition, tributes and the Billy Graham Museum located in Charlotte, N.C., Graham was reported to remain one of the most humble individuals anyone could meet, always pointing upwards and giving credit to God.

Some believe no one can take his place. Others believe his death will spark a renewal across our nation.

Graham was given tribute first at his home.

His body was then taken from the Cove to the Billy Graham Museum in Charlotte where he lay in state, then was given special honor to be taken to Washington, D.C. to be honored in the Rotunda of the Capitol building. Democrats and Republicans alike laid their differences down to come together honoring his legacy and home-going.