a billy graham center archives exhibit
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Select Chronology of Events in the Life of Rev. Billy Graham


William Franklin Graham Jr. on November 7, 1918, near Charlotte, North Carolina, to William Franklin and Morrow (Coffey) Graham. He was the first of four children, followed by Catherine, Melvin, and Jean. William Graham Sr. was a farmer and businessman.


By sprinkling at Chalmers Memorial Church in 1919. Family attend a local congregation of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. In 1938 was baptized by immersion by Rev. Cecil Underwood while Graham was leading an evangelistic campaign at the Peniel Baptist Church in East Palatka, Florida


Around November 7, 1934. Evangelist Mordecai Ham led an evangelistic campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina from August through November, during which Billy Graham accept Jesus Christ as his savior


To Ruth McCue Bell on August 13, 1943, They have five children: Virginia Leftwich, Anne Morrow, Ruth Bell, William Franklin III, and Nelson Edman


1938-1940, attended Florida Bible Institute in Tampa, Florida, graduated

1940-1943, attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology


Began in 1937, while still a student at Florida Bible Institute, to serve as the preacher in evangelistic campaigns and has continued to do so up to the present

1940, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister

1940-1943, served as the preacher at the Gospel Tabernacle, a nondenominational house of worship in the town of Wheaton

1943-1945, Pastor of the First Baptist Church (usually called the Village Church) in Western Springs, Illinois

1945-1948, Vice President and one of the principal speakers of Youth for Christ International. Traveled extensively through North America and Europe to preach at YFC rallies

1947-1952, President of Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Several of the college staff there later became key members of his evangelistic organization

1949- Held an evangelistic meeting in Los Angeles that was extended from three weeks to seven because of the crowds and which received extensive press coverage. From this point on, Graham was a prominent public figure, probably the best known evangelist in the United States. He held evangelistic campaigns all around the United States and around the world, as he continues to do.

1950 -, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was incorporated. The BGEA remains Graham’s organizational base, organizing his evangelistic meetings and those of associate evangelists, producing radio programs and televison broadcasts, publishing Decision magazine, sponsoring related activities and also doing some humanitarian relief and development work

1966. Sponsored the first of a series of international congresses and conferences on evangelism, intended to deepen the commitment and increase the resources of the Christian church’s for presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of these congresses include the World Congress on Evangelism (1966, co-sponsored with Christianity Today magazine and held in Berlin, Germany); the International Congress on World Evangelization (1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland),the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists (1986 in Amsterdam, Netherlands), the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists (1986 in Amsterdam, Netherlands), and Amsterdam 2000 (2000 in Amsterdam, Netherlands)

1980. Opened the Billy Graham Center, a division of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. The Center was intended to stimulate Christian evangelism around the world by a variety of means

1983. Billy Graham receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

1987. The Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, near Asheville, North Carolina was open to provide training in the Bible and evangelism to Christian workers and laypersons

1996. Billy and Ruth Graham receive the Congressional Medal of Freedom

2001. Graham’s oldest son, Franklin, succeeds him as president of the BGEA. Billy Graham continues to hold evangelistic campaigns

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© 2005 Wheaton College and © 2005 BGEA