". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


It’s Time to Honor North Carolina’s Favorite Son in the U.S. Capitol

February 21, 2023

It was five years ago today that our nation and the world lost one of the greatest modern-day preachers of the gospel. Known affectionately as America’s pastor, Billy Graham came face-to-face with the Savior He had proclaimed for nearly a century on February 21, 2018. While Graham was well-known in the United States, he holds a special place in the hearts of North Carolinians like me. It’s why we’ve gone to such great lengths to honor him and preserve his legacy for future generations.

In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly named Billy Graham “North Carolina’s Favorite Son” as a tribute to the decades of ministry he had spent proclaiming the gospel across the nation and around the world. However, he is special to North Carolina because he was born on a dairy farm just outside Charlotte and made his home in the mountains of Montreat, where he and Ruth raised their five children. During his ministry, Billy Graham hosted over 400 crusades, preaching the gospel to 215 million people in 185 countries. He met with every U.S. president from Harry Truman to Donald Trump, earning him the nickname “Pastor to Presidents.” He also met with many world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II with whom he had 12 personal meetings over the course of his ministry. 

In 2015, then Governor Pat McCrory (R) signed a bill passed by the North Carolina General Assembly that would place a statue of Billy Graham in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Because only two statues are allowed per state, Graham’s will replace that of former Governor Charles Brantley Aycock. Also, statues placed in Statuary Hall may only be those of deceased individuals, placing the statue on hold until the day God called Graham home.

Upon Graham’s death, then Congressman Ted Budd (R) led a delegation of North Carolina members in introducing a resolution to honor the life of Reverend Billy Graham. In 2020, the General Assembly quickly approved a design submitted by the statue’s artist. According to the Architect of the Capitol, replacing statues requires the approval of the Joint Committee on the Library, which didn’t approve the design until over a year later. In 2021, Budd introduced a resolution calling on the Joint Committee to approve the full-sized clay model and final statue within 30 days of approval by the General Assembly.

While the resolution didn’t make it out of the House, the committee finally approved a 22-inch model of the statue in September of last year, allowing artist Chris Fagan to begin work on the larger-than-life 10 foot, 10-inch-tall clay statue. Once the Joint Committee on the Library approves this statue, it will be cast in bronze and placed in Statuary Hall.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has committed to raising the $650,000 needed for construction and placement of the statue. To date, they’ve received donations from all 50 states, including all 100 counties in Graham’s beloved home state of North Carolina. If you’d like to donate to the statue, you can visit this website to give whatever the Lord leads you.

Two of the most peaceful places I have ever visited were the ideas of Billy Graham. The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte is a beautiful tribute to his life and ministry. The library is designed in the shape of a barn to depict Graham’s humble upbringing on a dairy farm just outside Charlotte. The entrance to the library is designed in the shape of a cross, a beautiful depiction of the message of the gospel — the ground is level at the foot of the cross! Anyone who repents of their sins can come and receive God’s free gift of salvation and forgiveness through faith alone in His mercy and grace. There is also a prayer garden to the right of the library where Billy and Ruth are buried.

I have visited the library several times. On my first visit, I was at a point in my life where I didn’t know where to turn. The messages of hope throughout the library strengthened my faith during that very difficult time. Another time, I visited the library the day after the 2020 election, a day of great discouragement for myself and many other Christian conservatives. Once again, my faith was strengthened as the message of hope that God is still in control resonated throughout the library.

Last November, I visited the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina, located just a few miles down the road from the Grahams’ mountaintop home in Montreat. The center hosts numerous conferences and seminars every year and even allows individuals to come for a few days for a personal spiritual retreat. The grounds are stunning throughout all four seasons, with trails surrounding the center providing multiple opportunities for prayer walks. My favorite place at the center is the Chatlos Memorial Chapel, a small traditional church with wooden pews, floor to ceiling windows, and one of the tallest steeples on the East Coast. The Cove is another wonderful tribute to Graham’s ministry and provides a quiet retreat from the world for weary Christians to get close to the Savior.

As Graham’s casket traveled 130 miles in a motorcade from The Cove in Asheville to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolinians lined roads, bridges, and overpasses along the route waving goodbye or holding Bibles and American flags. I had the honor of viewing Billy Graham’s casket as he lay in honor under the Capitol rotunda, only the fourth person to receive such an honor. Billy’s and Ruth’s caskets are simple wooden structures made by inmates from Angola Prison in Louisiana. On top of his casket was a cross, a testament to the message Graham spent his entire adult life preaching around the world.

Paraphrasing D.L. Moody, Billy Graham often said, “One day you’ll hear that Billy Graham has died. Don’t you believe it. On that day, I’ll be more alive than ever before! I’ve just changed addresses.” Five years ago today, Billy Graham’s faith became sight as he came face to face with the Savior he had proclaimed for so long.

In these times of hyper partisanship, it seems like coming together to honor a man who loved everyone would be a simple task. It’s high time to expedite this process so that Billy Graham’s statue can be permanently placed in Statuary Hall. As America’s pastor and North Carolina’s favorite son, what better place to honor his legacy than the U.S. Capitol so that visitors from across the country and around the world will always be reminded of what God can do with a life fully submitted to Him and the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ. Let’s support Senator Budd and the North Carolina delegation to make sure this happens in 2023.