Work for Billy Graham statue at U.S. Capitol moves forward

US evangelist Billy Graham preaches the Gospel to thousands of believers during tonight's meeting at Bercy's Stadium in Paris as part of a worldwide crusade, September 20, 1986. REUTERS/STR

Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) on Wednesday named four members to a newly-formed Statuary Hall Selection Committee that will work to place a statue of the late Rev. Billy Graham in the U.S. Capitol.  Graham, preacher to millions, died in February at the age of 99.

On the committee are Dr. David Bruce, president of Graham’s Blue Ridge Broadcasting ministry and chair of the Montreat College Board of Trustees; Mr. Clarence Henderson, a retired entrepreneur, civil rights leader and past chair of the N.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission; Congressman Robert Pittenger (N.C.-09); and former N.C. Sen. Dan Soucek, who sponsored legislation recommending Graham’s statue be placed in the Capitol.

“Billy Graham’s faith and ministry inspired not just countless North Carolinians, but millions around the globe, and I can think of no better representative for our state in Statuary Hall,” said Berger. “Each of these members has a deep, personal appreciation of Rev. Graham’s contributions to our state, and I thank them for their willingness to help realize this tribute to one of North Carolina’s favorite sons.”

The committee was formed after Graham’s death, but in 2015 N.C. lawmakers passed legislation that started the process to put a statue of Graham in Washington, D.C.’s Statuary Hall as one of two representing the state. The statue will replace the existing replica of early 20th century Gov. Charles Aycock.

Governor Roy Cooper and Lt. Governor Dan Forest sent letters in February to Capitol architect Stephen Ayers requesting the replacement.

“On February 21, 2018, North Carolina lost one of its favorite sons and the world lost a tremendous leader. Reverend William Franklin “Billy” Graham, Jr., born November 7, 1918, in Charlotte, North Carolina, devoted his life to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and serving others across the globe,” the letter from Forest read.

“Session Law 2015-269, enacted by our General Assembly April 6, 2015, and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory, requests the Joint Committee of the Library of Congress to approve North Carolina’s request to replace the statue of Governor Charles B. Aycock in Statuary Hall with a statue of the Reverend Billy Graham.

“Today, as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina and President of the North Carolina Senate, I write to encourage you to approve North Carolina’s request to replace Governor Aycock’s statue with one of Rev. Graham.”

Graham preached the gospel to more people than anyone else in history. Some 77 million saw him in person, and nearly 215 million more watched his crusades on television across the world, from his native North Carolina to communist North Korea during his 70 years in the pulpit.  Graham also became the de facto White House chaplain to U.S. presidents including Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.