Billy Graham exhibit to go live at state history museum

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Billy Graham prays for those who have been listening in person, on radio and television. Photo: BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION

RALEIGH, N.C. (Christian Examiner) -- Southern Baptist minister and famed evangelist Billy Graham has long been considered among the most admired Americans. This year, the renowned pastor will add living historical figure to his list of honors.

North Carolina lawmakers voted to name Graham the state's "favorite son" in 2014. This fall, however, the Charlotte-native will be featured in a special 5,000 square-foot exhibit at North Carolina Museum of History.

The "North Carolina's Favorite Son: Billy Graham and His Remarkable Journey of Faith" display will reside in the museum's largest gallery and debut Nov. 6, the day before Graham turns 97. According to the museum website, the interactive gallery will continue through July 10, 2016.

From audio clips to video displays and more the museum exhibit will feature Graham's life and more than six-decades of ministry through the lens of North Carolina history including the pastor's role in the civil rights movement and Cold War.

Visitors will learn about Graham's journey from growing up on a dairy farm to his days as spiritual counselor to numerous American presidents.

Memorabilia for the exhibit will be provided by The Billy Graham Library which is also responsible for development and funding. The library is an arm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and is considered "an ongoing crusade" that continues to share the Gospel message.

According to a statement on the BGEA website, David Bruce, Graham's assistant, said state leaders petitioned museum directors to include the display to round out the "faith element" of North Carolina history.

"There are definitely reflections of notable people like politicians, but this adds a missing and very important piece," Bruce said noting that "a display about the life of Billy Graham would satisfy much of that," Bruce stated.

Importantly, the purpose of the museum display may draw attention to Graham, but ultimately serves to point visitors to "testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Bruce added.

One way it can point people to the Gospel is by directing them back to the Billy Graham Library, which exists as a ministry to lead people to experience God, Tom Phillips, vice president of the Billy Graham Library said.

"We always want something like this to cause a person to consider his or her own relationship with the Creator. You want it to touch hearts and draw attention to spiritual things," Phillips said in a written statement.

"I believe this exhibit will encourage all young people that God has a plan for their lives, and that He can call them to do great things, like He did with Billy Graham. My prayer is that they will walk away with the understanding that they don't have to be pastors, missionaries, or world famous evangelists to fulfill God's call. They can do that wherever God places them."

Still, the museum display is not the only upcoming historical honor for Graham.

Further legislation awaits Senate approval to authorize placing a statue of Graham in the U.S. Capitol after he is deceased.

A likeness of Graham would replace that of former governor, Charles Aycock. Federal law allows each states to contribute two statues each of a deceased historical icon for the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol. The legislation authorizing the statue is expected to be voted on sometime this summer.