His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon represented the Orthodox Church in America at the funeral of the Rev. Billy Graham on Friday, March 2, 2018.
Also in attendance at the funeral, which was celebrated at the Billy Graham Library, Charlotte, NC, were His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; His Grace, Bishop Anthony of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America’s Diocese of Toledo, who represented His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph; representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate; and His Grace, Bishop Mar Aprim Khamis of the Assyrian Church of the East.
Over 2000 invited guests, including 200 members of the Graham family, were present for the funeral for the Rev. Graham, who died on Wednesday, February 21 at the age of 99. US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were among those in attendance.
The Rev. Graham was no stranger to Orthodox Christianity. In the 1980s he visited and preached in the Soviet Union—unprecedented during that era. He also had visited Romania and other traditionally Orthodox Christian lands.
The relationship between the OCA and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association began to develop during preparations for the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, “Martyrs For Christ,” held in Washington, DC in May 2017. Metropolitan Tikhon was among those invited to address the gathering.
At the repast for guests that followed services and interment, Metropolitan Tikhon offered an opening prayer.
“O God of love and compassion, Lord of truth and judgment, we pray to You today in thanksgiving for the life and evangelistic ministry of our brother, Reverend Billy Graham, as a servant and minister of the Good News of Christ,” Metropolitan Tikhon prayed. “Billy Graham was the voice of the Gospel for many millions of people on every continent. He gave witness to the Gospel with zeal, yet with respect for Christian traditions other than his own—whether Protestant or Anglican or Catholic or Orthodox.
“Always firmly rooted in the Gospel of Christ, he sought the way of peace with all in the family of America and all in the human families of the world,” Metropolitan Tikhon continued. “We pray with confidence that he now hears the voice of God, ‘well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master.’ As we gather for this meal, we particularly give thanks for the ministry and the witness of our brother, Reverend Billy Graham. For the hard-working young man who put his hand to the plough and tilled the ground to the ends of this earth; for the faithful sower who sowed the seeds of faith—equally in the ground that was hard, in the ground that was stony, in the ground that was thorny and in the ground that was soft; for the apostolic man who saw that the fields were white for harvest and brought the sheaves in and cast off the tares; for the humble man who claimed he was an ordinary preacher but by his humility leavened the lump with the yeast of God’s word; for the man of love who baked the bread of life in his own heart and offered it to the rest of us to partake of.
“And today, as we break this bread, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is made known to us, for He blesses the food we partake of and the fellowship we share, for He is the Bread of Life,” Metropolitan Tikhon concluded. “He is also the Resurrection and He is the Life and the Repose of Billy Graham, his wife Ruth, and the members of their family who have fallen asleep. Together with Him, O Heavenly Father, and with the Holy Spirit, we offer thanks and glory unto ages of ages. Amen.”