10 Memorable Guests to the Billy Graham Library
April 10, 2017
Categories: 10th Anniversary
At the Billy Graham Library, we have had the honor of hosting over 1 million visitors over the past 10 years. Today we are taking a look at 10 special guests who have joined us during that time.
On May 31, 2017, the Billy Graham Library was dedicated in a special ceremony attended by many dignitaries including President’s Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
For the 1,600 people sitting under the tent, the Library and the reconstructed Graham homeplace were visible behind the podium. Programs doubled as fans in the 90-degree heat, as people heard from Cliff Barrows, BGEA board member Graeme Keith, Bishop George Battle, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, musical artists Ricky Skaggs and Wintley Phipps, Franklin Graham, the three former presidents, George Beverly Shea and finally Billy Graham.
After so many had made kind remarks about him, Mr. Graham began by saying, “I feel terribly small and humbled by it all, and I feel I don’t deserve [it] because it’s been a whole team of people that have worked together, prayed together, traveled together, believed God was going to do wonderful things together.”
Former president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush appeared at the Billy Graham Library to sign copies of their respective memoirs, Decision Points and Spoken From the Heart.
Visitors to the Billy Graham Library’s Journey of Faith pass by an impressive 15-by-31 foot mural from artist Thomas Kinkade called “The Cross.” Kinkade visited the Library in 2010 for an unveiling of the piece that remains on display today.
Hundreds of guests came out to meet World War II hero and former Olympian Louis Zamperini at the Billy Graham Library June 10, 2011. The subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book, Unbroken, Zamperini accepted Christ at the 1949 Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade.
More than 100 artists were on the roster for the 2011 taping of the Gaither Homecoming. On May 3, Bill and Gloria Gaither, along with the “Homecoming” family, took a musical journey back in time and relived the spirit of early tent revivals, where countless souls were impacted for eternity, and where Billy Graham’s public ministry took root in 1949.
In 2012, former MLB player from the New York Yankees, Bobby Richardson came to the Library to sign copies of his memoir, Impact Player. Richardson, who is no stranger to the spotlight having played in seven World Series, has had many opportunities to share his faith as a player and in retirement. He’s been involved in five different Billy Graham Crusades, giving his testimony at four of them, including twice in Japan and the 1965 Crusades in Honolulu and at Houston’s Astrodome with President Lyndon Johnson.
More than 500 people packed the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday afternoon for a chance to hear a free acoustic concert by country and bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs.
A 14-time GRAMMY winner who has graced the music stage for more than 50 years, Skaggs shared tunes including “Can’t Shake Jesus,” “Music to My Ears” and “A Work of Love” before holding a short Q&A with the audience. Afterwards, hundreds stuck around to get his autograph on everything from album covers to guitars.
Hundreds of Duck Dynasty fans came out to meet both Kay and Phil Robertson, the head of A&E television’s favorite family, who traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, to sign their books unPHILtered and Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen. Afterwards, guests, along with Phil, Kay and Franklin Graham, had a chance to sample Miss Kay’s banana pudding in the Graham Brothers Dairy Bar.
Dr. Kent Brantly is a medical missionary with Samaritan’s Purse. In the summer of 2014, he contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in Liberia. After being flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Dr. Brantly made a miraculous recovery from the often-fatal disease. Dr. Brantly and his wife Amber visited that Billy Graham Library in 2015 to sign copies of their book, Called for Life. Dr. Brantly’s story is also featured in the documentary “Facing Darkness,” produced by Samaritan’s Purse.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson wasn’t looking to go viral on social media. But more than 850,000 people “liked” the raw emotion he shared in a 2014 Facebook post about racial strife in America. The NFL player’s honest conversation about the division between races connected with people. They shared his post more than 460,000 times and tens of thousands of people left comments.
From that post a book was born: Under Our Skin: Getting Real About Race—and Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us by Benjamin Watson with Ken Petersen. Watson, who won the 2005 Super Bowl while playing with the New England Patriots, was at the Billy Graham Library Saturday, March 25, in Charlotte, North Carolina, to sign copies of his first book. Which is pretty cool, considering his dad, a pastor, prayed to receive Christ while watching Billy Graham preach on TV.