Billy Graham preached to Queen and at Carrow Road
The world’s best-known evangelist, Billy Graham, preached to the Queen at Sandringham and 63,000 people at Carrow Road in Norwich in 1984, sparking the start of thousands of people’s Christian commitment across Norfolk.
Billy, who died yesterday at the age of 99, preached to an incredible 215 million people in crusades around the world.
Born in 1918 in North Carolina, Billy became a committed Christian at the age of 16 after hearing a travelling evangelist. He was ordained a minister in 1939, aged 21.
Throughout his life, Billy preached the gospel of Jesus Christ at more than 400 evangelistic rallies in over 185 countries and territories. He reached millions more through TV, video, film, the internet and 34 books.
It was as part of the major three-month Mission England crusade that the well-known American preacher came to Norwich. He spoke at six football stadiums across the country, including Carrow Road from June 9 to 12, 1984.
The visit was the culmination of a year of planning, and brought together the Christian community of Norfolk on what seemed like an unprecedented scale.
850 churches were involved, raising the £175,000 cost and providing 4,500 volunteers including 1,456 counsellors and a 1,745-strong choir plus administrators, youth leaders and stewards.
Christians across the county were encouraged to form prayer triplets during the preceding months, and then to each bring a non-Christian to the meeting. Local churches were invited to join together to form a massed choir at each venue, and churches from all over Norfolk came together to sing at the Norwich meetings.
Maggie Rothe from Sheringham Baptist Church said, “There were four meetings on consecutive days at Carrow Road, and the atmosphere at those meetings was incredible. Billy spoke powerfully and passionately but calmly and without hype, and each meeting culminated with a surge of people moving forward, accepting his invitation to accept Jesus, but they were not allowed onto the pitch as the turf had been newly laid! The sense of unity between all the different churches was really wonderful, and it was great to see so many local Christians getting involved with the mission, whether it was singing, stewarding, or just bringing their friends to the mission. A truly memorable week.”
Wendy Barnes, a member of Norwich Central Baptist Church sang in the choir at Carrow Road in 1984. She was also a steward at a big evangelical conference in Amsterdam and shook Billy Graham’s hand. She said, “He was the most loving, gracious, gentle man. You couldn’t help but love him.” Over 3,700 people responded to Billy’s message in Norwich. Wendy said, “His word was so simple, it was just so ordinary but people stood up and came out. It was amazing.”
In 2009 there was a service at Norwich Anglican Cathedral marking 25 years since the historic visit, read about it here.
While Billy Graham’s primary focus was to take this message to the world, he also provided spiritual counsel to presidents and even preached to the Queen at Sandringham during his 1984 visit to Norfolk.
Pictured top is Billy Graham preaching at Carrow Road in Norwich, above with Queen Elizabeth and below with Dr Peter English, chairman of Mission England in East Anglia overlooking Norwich city centre back 1984.
You can read more tributes to Billy here
Read our previous stories about Billy Graham in Norfolk
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