During his lifetime, the Reverend Billy Graham took his message around the world. He even brought it to Anchorage.

In 1984, Graham held one of his "crusades" at the Sullivan Arena, which, by all accounts was packed. Local churches sponsored buses to bring people from all over the city so they could hear the Christian Evangelist preach.

"He was just a powerful speaker," said Anchorage Baptist Temple Pastor Glenn Clary, who, along with the Reverend Jerry Prevo, got to meet Graham that day.

He described Graham as dynamic yet humble whose speech electrified the crowd.

"It was spiritually electric," said Clary. "Because this was something that had never happened in our town before and it certainly was one of the largest, if not the largest events that happened in Anchorage at that time."

Graham preached for more than 60 years, becoming a confidant and a counselor to every American president. But, he steered clear of politics and remained nonpartisan.

The Reverand Alonzo Paterson, who also heard Graham preach, said he appreciated that Graham took a stance that Christianity isn't about country or race. And, even in the 1950s, he refused to speak to segregated audiences.

"He said, 'I want you to know that Jesus was not black or white, he probably had a brown skin, but he was a savior of the world-- not of America and not of some particular culture.' That inspired me to cement what I thought about him," said Paterson.

Young pastors like Ellen Johnson-Price of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in east Anchorage said times have changed since Graham was in his heyday. Even so, she said his influence remains.

"There probably has been nobody else who has been as broadly influential," said Johnson-Price. "[Someone] who could span that wide range of Christianity and at least have some influence in all parts."

Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in North Carolina. He was 99-years old. A family spokesman said a private funeral will be held on March 2.

Former Governor Sean Parnell sat down for a LIVE interview with KTVA Wednesday evening to discuss the reverend. 

Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.


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