The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) celebrated the opening of its new home in Charlotte, N.C. this past weekend with a special dedication ceremony. According to the Association, the recent move was the latest stage in the BGEAs growth, which began in Minneapolis more than 50 years ago.
Some four years after announcing a plan to relocate the international headquarters from Minneapolis and two years after the ground breaking in Charlotte, the Rev. Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, and the BGEA Board of Directors officially opened the recently completed facility located on 63 acres of land on the Billy Graham Parkway, the BGEA reported.
Billy Graham, a North Carolina native, founded the BGEA in 1950 a year after his first Los Angeles tent revival launched him into worldwide prominence. Since then, Graham has preached the Gospel to more than 210 million people in more than 185 countries.
This office is to the glory of the Glory, Graham said during the ceremony. An office is a tool, an instrument that we can use, but its whats going on in the office and the people that work here and the dedication that they have and the goal that we have in ministering the gospel and winning people to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank God for Charlotte and for all its meant to me through the years, Graham added later. I always knew in my heart that is my home. And its still my home.
An address from U.S. President George W. Bush was also read during the ceremony by Grahams son, evangelist Franklin Graham.
In the statement, Bush congratulated his good friend Billy Graham in bringing the Association home to North Carolina.
Faith plays a vital role in the lives of many Americans as a source of strength, hope and guidance, Bush wrote in the statement. Throughout our history, people of faith have enriched lives and shaped the character of our nation. This dedication ceremony provides an opportunity for Association members and supporters to come together in fellowship and celebrate the many extraordinary achievements and contributions of Billy Graham.
Billys good works have added to the character of our country and helped change America for the better, one heart and one soul at a time. I appreciate all those who have worked to make the Associations new headquarters possible. Your efforts have helped spread the message of Gods love and boundless mercy to people around the world. Laura and I send our best wishes on this special occasion. May God bless you. May God continue to bless America.
Franklin Graham also spoke during the ceremony, assuring those gathered that in the new headquarters they were going to do the same thing they have been doing for the last 60 years.
Were not changing the course or the direction of this organization this ministry, Graham proclaimed. We are committed to the proclamation of the Gospel - the good news that God loves sinners.
It was after more than 50 years of operation in Minneapolis, Minn., that the BGEA announced on Nov. 15, 2001 its decision to relocate to Charlotte, N.C. One year later, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory joined some 550 civic, business, and religious leaders in officially welcoming native son Billy Graham home to Charlotte at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new headquarters.