Arts and Culture
3:40 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Billy Graham celebrates his 95th birthday

Rev. Billy Graham turns 95

 About 800 people joined the reverend Billy Graham last night to celebrate his 95th birthday.

Guests, including Sarah and Todd Palin, applaud Rev. Graham as he enters the room in a wheelchair.
Credit Greta Johnsen / WCQS

Kathie Lee Gifford led the group in song, and guests included Fox news host Greta van Susteren, former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and businessman Donald Trump.

Billy Graham, whose health has been in decline, didn’t make any speeches, though he did thank friends and family.

Tullian Tchavidjian  is one of Graham’s 19 grandchildren. He said the party could be one of the last major events Graham will attend, and that Americans are already celebrating his legacy.

“Because his message has always been one of forgiveness," Tchavidjian said, "even people of different religious backgrounds admire him. Even if they disagree with him, they admire him.”

As guests eat dinner, a slideshow of Graham with prominent Americans plays at the front of the room.
Credit Greta Johnsen / WCQS

The party, which was held in a ballroom at Asheville's Grove Park Inn, was modest for the stature of its guests. The dinner was roasted chicken and carmelized carrots on a bed of buttermilk mashed potatoes, according to officials for the hotel, and each guest got a cupcake with a single candle to blow out. Tables were decorated with copies of Graham's most recent book, his 32nd, called The Reason for my Hope: Salvation.

Graham’s birthday also marks the debut of the thirty-minute film “My Hope America,” his newest, and probably last, crusade. The video has footage of his previous sermons, with Graham preaching at the pulpit, interspersed with an older Graham sitting in his living room porch, ssharing his message of faith.

The video, which also aired on Fox last night, will air at about 25,000 churches this weekend.