From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 02 May 1996 22:28:54

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Contact: Carol J. Fouke, NCC, 212-870-2252

45NCC5/2/96                 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

 WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2 ---- National Council
of Churches General Secretary Joan Brown Campbell
praised Evangelist Billy Graham, who today receives
the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, as a bridge-
builder across theological and political differences
who has "sought to be God's man in the public

 The Rev. Dr. Campbell will be present for
today's awards ceremony at 2 p.m. in the Capitol
Rotunda.  "I think he's a remarkable person," she
said.  "His integrity has been unshaken by his fame.
He has continued to live comfortably but not
extravagantly.  His living and his words are of a
piece.  It's not an ego ministry.  He doesn't try to
begin his own churches, but calls people to faith
and then refers them to local congregations."

 Dr. Campbell recalled her first meeting with
Dr. Graham in August 1991, about three months after
she took office as the NCC's top staff official.
"Dr. Graham was preparing for his crusades in New
York's Central Park and in New Jersey.  He phoned me
to say he'd be in the neighborhood, could he stop

 "I felt honored," she said.  "I grew up with
Billy Graham as a hero figure.  We listened to him
on the radio, and my dad went as often as he could
to hear Dr. Graham preach."

 In their 90-minute private meeting at the NCC's
New York City headquarters, Dr. Campbell and Dr.
Graham explored a wide range of subjects including
the quest for Christian unity, spiritual hunger in
the Soviet Union and their hopes for their children.
They prayed together for each other's ministry, then
addressed a standing-room only crowd in The
Interchurch Center's chapel.

 "I consider myself as belonging to all the
churches," he told his audience.  "And I love
everybody equally and I have no problem in
fellowship with anybody who says that Jesus Christ
is Lord.  This has been a great relief to me to come
to that conclusion about 20 some years ago."

 Dr. Graham told Dr. Campbell that he had
initiated the meeting with her "because he owed the
NCC so much that related to the integrity of his
ministry."  In the early 1950s, as he was beginning
his ministry, he explained, he sought advice from
the NCC's evangelism program director, Jesse M.
Bader, on how to avoid the scandals that so often
plague mass evangelists.

 Two things get an evangelist in trouble, Mr.
Bader said -- money and women.  He advised Dr.
Graham to have a board of directors, draw a flat
salary and never beg constituents for money.  "And
Dr. Graham has never had a money scandal," Dr.
Campbell noted.  Mr. Bader also counseled Dr. Graham
to never meet alone behind closed doors with a
woman, except for an immediate family member.

 "As he was telling me this, he looked up and
realized he and I were alone together in my office,
with the door closed," Dr. Campbell recalls.  "Dr.
Graham quickly added, '...and except for the General
Secretary of the National Council of Churches!'"

 Dr. Campbell attended Dr. Graham's Meadowlands,
N.J., crusade, where she said he recognized her
presence and said he remembers the NCC daily in his

 Thirty-three Protestant and Orthodox
denominations (communions) work cooperatively
through the NCC.  Those bodies have a combined U.S.
membership of nearly 52 million.

 The Council's wide-ranging program includes
disaster relief, refugee assistance and development
work in more than 70 countries, including the U.S.;
support of justice for persons in the United States
and around the world; theological dialogue among
Christians; interfaith dialogue; support for
churches' education and ministry and for regional
and local ecumenism; worship and evangelization;
communications, and publication of the New Revised
Standard Version Bible and of the annual Yearbook of
American and Canadian Churches.


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