Billy Graham won't crusade in London (or, probably, anywhere else)
A press release from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) suggests that Graham's New York evangelistic crusade three weeks ago was his last, but the statement does not say so explicitly.
Graham had repeatedly stated that he hoped to hold a crusade in London in November as a kind of capstone to his ministry. His 12-week 1954 crusade there launched his ministry as an international figure, ending in a Wembley Stadium event attended by 122,000.
But after consulting with doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the 86-year-old evangelist says he and his wife, Ruth, are getting too ill and too old to travel so far.
"After much prayerful consideration I determined I should not be that far from home," Graham said in a letter to London clergy who had extended the invitation. "This was a difficult decision because London has played such a significant part in the life of my ministry."
The BGEA says the decision was made before London's bombings and the announcement that the city would host the 2012 Olympic Games, but both incidents would surely make a Graham crusade in that city even more complicated.
In a press release, the organization says that Franklin Graham has already planned "an aggressive schedule of crusades" through 2007 and that the BGEA is planning "the most ambitious international broadcasting outreach in its 55-year history."
But the evangelistic ministry of the organization's namesake will be limited to "writing several books and contributing to other special projects he has begun in recent years," says the group.
Organization spokesmen, however, are repeating Billy Graham's frequent statement about future crusades, "Never say never."