The people of North Carolina gave their most famous citizen a week to remember when they turned out in record numbers for his spirited evangelistic campaign in Raleigh, the state capital, last month.
“I don’t know when I’ve ever been in such a happy crusade,” said a pleased Billy Graham.
The 54-year-old evangelist told the audience he felt much more relaxed than usual, primarily because no videotapes were being made of the eight-day effort and this freed him and his team from on-camera pressures. Most of his crusades in recent years have subsequently been telecast coast to coast.
Also gratifying to Graham were the huge crowds that poured into the modern 42,000-seat Carter Stadium. He said he had thought beforehand that one side of the field might do, but the attendance averaged more than 25,000. At one youth service, the stadium, which belongs to North Carolina State University, was virtually packed out. Young people appeared to be in the majority at all the services.
Turnouts were remarkably high considering the population of the area. Its three main cities, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, together have no more than about 250,000 residents. There are many small towns in the vicinity, however, and people came from as far as Virginia and South Carolina.
The area has a lot of churches, mainly Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian, but is not typical Bible-belt country. For one thing, three large universities (Duke, North Carolina, and North Carolina State, with a combined student body of 40,000) and some small colleges are clustered around the capital, adding up to a sizable academic community.
The crowds were the biggest the evangelist has ever had in his home state. They were tantamount to a vote of confidence for Graham, who ...1
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