Sunday, 10 October 2010

Billy Graham's Scotch-Irish roots

Recently I visited the state of North Carolina, which is part of the so-called 'Bible belt' in America.  I was very impressed by the strong Scotch-Irish influence in the history of the state and today I came across another example of that.  The American evangelist Billy Graham is known throughout the world but he was born in North Carolina and is one of the most famous people to come from that state.

The Billy Graham Story was written by John Pollock in 1985 and it was reprinted in 2003 by Zondervan but it is very much an official biography with the copyright held by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  In it Pollock wrote about Billy Graham's family background and stated:
William Franklin Graham married Morrow Coffey of Steele Creek near Charlotte in 1916.  Their eldest son, William Franklin Graham Jr., Billy Frank to his family, was born in the frame farm-house  on November 7, 1918, three days before his father's thirtieth birthday and four before the Armistice.  All four of Billy Graham's grandparents were descended from the Scots-Irish pioneers who settled in the Carolinas before the Revolution.
The family were members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, which was introduced into America by Scotch-Irish and Scottish settlers, and they attended the Chalmers Memorial ARP Church in Charlotte.  Billy Graham was brought up in that denomination but he was converted in November 1934 through the preaching of Mordecai Fowler Ham (1877-1961), a Baptist pastor and evangelist, who held an eleven-week gospel mission in a temporary wooden 'tabernacle' near Charlotte.  Subsequently Billy Graham became a Southern Baptist.

Among Christians in Ulster there are different views about some aspects of Billy Graham's ministry but everyone would acknowledge his strong influence over many years and we can add him to the list of significant Scotch-Irish figures to emerge from North Carolina.

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