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


Billy Graham Statue Unveiling: ‘A Historic Moment’ of Joy, Praise, and Evangelism

May 17, 2024

On a warm, sunny day in Washington, D.C., a line formed outside the Capitol as the time drew nearer and nearer for the unveiling of Reverend Billy Graham’s figure in Statuary Hall. Just inside the elegant room where statues of prominent figures representing America’s 50 states, many gathered. An atmosphere of excitement rippled through the crowd as all awaited the moment of honoring a man famously known as “America’s preacher.” The U.S. Army Brass Quartet played melodies, including the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” as guests greeted one another and found their seats. Before long, it was time for the ceremony to begin.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) entered, followed by former Vice President Mike Pence and congressional members of North Carolina — the state the influential evangelist was representing. The event kicked off with the singing of the National Anthem, which grew into a choir of voices as the attendees softly joined in. Johnson, the first of several leaders to pay respects to Graham, started by saying, this is “truly a historic moment.” He added, “Billy Graham is such a towering figure,” and he now “finally takes his rightful place” inside the nation’s Capitol.

There was no shortage of admiration for Reverend Graham, as each speaker described him as a servant of Jesus Christ, a faithful minister who “shared the good news” of salvation, and a man who stood for unity. Graham’s legacy, as Senator Ted Budd (R-N.C.) conveyed, is based in the preaching of “creation, fall, redemption, and our ultimate hope set forth in Scripture.”

The world famous preacher impacted millions of people through his life and ministry, and “his legacy continues,” Budd emphasized. Taking the opportunity to share the gospel message, just as Graham did throughout his life, the senator added, “Friends, God’s grace is undeserved. But through Christ, it is free, and it is in trusting in Christ’s sacrifice that we are saved.”

Budd was not the only one to deliver a salvation message during the ceremony. Other speakers made sure to emphasize the two verses engraved on Graham’s statue: John 14:6, where Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” and John 3:16, which proclaims, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Just as Graham spent his life doing, this event was filled with multiple calls for those in attendance to put their faith in Jesus Christ.

An emotional Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) expressed, nearly to the point of tears, her gratitude for the message the prominent reverend promoted — a man who “I love and admire deeply,” she said. Foxx hopes his statue, with its “providential” placement in the heart of the Capitol as the speaker noted, will serve as encouragement to be “more like Reverend Graham and like Christ.” And this was another theme from today’s event, namely, a pursuit of unity that was clearly demonstrated in Graham’s ministry.

Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), who attended the unveiling, explained to The Washington Stand how Graham played a personal role in his life as his mom came to Christ during one of the Billy Graham crusades. Graham had “a legacy of integrity,” he said. “He was consistent in his faith,” in proclaiming the message that God is a loving God, and that all have an “opportunity to be able to know Christ personally.” According to Lankford, Graham had “affection for all people” — he was able to “break down barriers, racial segregation,” and welcomed people from all different backgrounds to engage together. “Every one of his crusades … were all known for grabbing … churches that didn’t talk to each other and bringing them [together],” the senator stated.

This is especially important today, Lankford went on to say, because America needs to come back to a place of civility. In his mind, this mission is accomplished in preaching Christ. He said, “Unity comes from going after a common purpose. … And so, the calling to say, ‘follow Christ,’ even if we’re very different, [means] the closer we go to Christ the closer we are to each other.” And he added that what Graham did during his ministry was just that, “calling everybody [to] get on board with the same passion to be able to follow Christ.”

Graham believed the Bible was true from “cover to cover,” said his son, Franklin, who’s followed in his dad’s evangelistic footsteps. “My father would be a little uncomfortable,” he joked, referring to the outpouring of praise. If it were up to Billy Graham, his son emphasized, the focus would be “on the One that he preached. He would want the focus to be the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” And so, Graham, who is also the president of Samaritan’s Purse, used the rest of his time to share the gospel, just as other speakers did, and just as his father would have done.

Christian musician Michael W. Smith graced Statuary Hall with his rendition of “I Surrender All,” singing the words, “All to Jesus I surrender. Make me Savior wholly thine. May Thy Holy Spirit fill me. May I know Thy power divine. I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

And in line with this surrender, the event both started and ended with prayer. “Lord, we thank You for this opportunity to honor the life and legacy of Your servant, the Reverend William Franklin Billy Graham Jr., by placing his statue in the United States Capitol Building,” said Senate Chaplain Barry Black. “We praise You for his life, which was like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless day. And like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth. Inspired by his great and sacrificial life, may we emulate his commitments by refusing to deviate from integrity, living above reproach, and striving to transform dark yesterday’s into bright tomorrow’s.”

He concluded, “Oh, mighty God, keep our eyes from tears, our feet from stumbling, and our hearts from despair,” as we remember the “one Dr. Billy Graham, who passionately loved and served Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. Amen.”

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.