BALTIMORE (BP) — Army Major Edward Graham, youngest son of Franklin Graham fielded questions about his military service and his grandfather, Billy Graham, during the annual worship service sponsored by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists.
Also featured were Keith Fordham, who, with Franklin Graham, was inducted into the evangelists’ Hall of Faith the previous evening, and COSBE President Eric Ramsey.
The June 8 Sunday morning worship was among numerous events held prior to the 2014 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention at the Baltimore Convention Center.
During an after-lunch business session that included the election of new officers, members voted to move COSBE materials to the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives; to absorb a Mississippi nonprofit, COSBE Publishing; and to launch a new website, www.sbcevangelist.org. An online magazine also is planned for the future.
“The last time my grandfather [Billy Graham] ever spoke publicly was here in Baltimore,” Edward Graham said in an on-stage Q&A with Ramsey. “He’s a loving grandfather, generous.” The Army Ranger said his father, Franklin Graham, whom he represented at the Hall of Faith induction, “is a very shy man,” but one who is patient, exhibiting one of the marks of a great leader.
“Leaders take risks, and never make the same mistake again,” Graham added. “That’s the kind of leader I want to be.”
As a child, Edward Graham told Baptist Press after the Q&A session, he was given military toys by his father. This led to a fascination with military history and in time to his appointment to West Point. He recently left leadership of a company of 150 Army Rangers — and several tours of duty in the Middle East — for additional schooling in Kansas.
“God sent His Son to be the leader of His church,” Graham said in what became a protracted Q&A on leadership. “He’s the greatest leader. He was a servant leader. …
“If you’re going to be a leader, don’t be a zero-defect leader,” Graham continued. “People make mistakes. Don’t belittle them. … Don’t give up on them.”
Billy Graham rallied for his 95th birthday last November, Edward Graham said, but it took a toll on his body. In these waning days of his life, Graham said his grandfather misses his wife Ruth — whom he calls by a Chinese word that means “old woman,” and looks forward to spending eternity with Jesus Christ.
“Pray he’s pain-free. … Pray for Poland. … Pray for the ministry in Alaska for wounded warriors,” Graham said, reporting that Franklin Graham is in Poland for evangelistic outreach while others from the Samaritan’s Purse organization are ministering to wounded veterans and their wives in Alaska through Operation Heal Our Patriots — a ministry started after a West Point friend of Edward Graham, stationed in Mosul, Iraq, was blinded by a suicide car bomb on his first wedding anniversary.
Ramsey and Graham both closed the Q&A in prayer.
Keith Fordham of Georgia, who opened the worship service, spoke of time-tested evangelistic methodology, which he recapped to Baptist Press after the worship service. “It always works,” Fordham said, when people from the church where he is speaking go out, knock on doors and invite people to the evangelistic services.
“We’ve got fewer door-knockers today. … People would be saved if people talk with them,” Fordham said, asking the audience to lead one person to Jesus by the end of the year.
Ramsey, ending his second term as COSBE’s president, wrapped up the service’s theme — “Answering His Call” — by preaching from Ephesians 4:11-12 in his president’s message.
“God, the creator of the universe, set you apart,” Ramsey, president of Tom Cox World Ministries in Arkansas, preached. “That’s not bragging rights; that gets me on my knees. God called; He gave us a choice. …
“Through His church, God provides the means for Him to be made known,” Ramsey continued. “God has chosen the church to make manifest the Word of God. … Remember your call when all seems bleak.”
The COSBE evangelists’ worship service included recognition of those who have served in evangelistic ministry for 25 years — P. Duane Hunt; The Akin Family: David, Dave, Nick and Eli; Dave Edwards; and Mona Faith — and for 50 years — Bette Stalnecker Gibson and Leon Westerhous.
Elected as COSBE officers during Sunday afternoon’s business session were Richard Hamlet, Global Ministries Fellowship, Memphis, president; Phil Glisson, Phil Glisson Ministries, Memphis, vice president; David Stockwell, secretary-treasurer, and Amy Stockwell, music director, both of David Stockwell Evangelistic Association, Katy, Texas; and Kay Cox of Tom Cox World Ministries, recording secretary.
COSBE announced the launch of its newly redesigned website, www.sbcevangelist.org, to be followed by the launch of an online magazine. An array of resources will be featured, including COSBE members’ videos, audios and articles.
In addition, Ramsey said he has been in talks with a large publishing house to publish and promote evangelists’ books to introduce them into large markets like Barnes and Noble Bookstores.
In other business, COSBE members approved:
— An agreement between COSBE and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives (SBHLA) designating the SBHLA as the official depository for historical materials and encouraging COSBE members to consider placing their own archival materials with SBHLA.
A June 7 ceremonial service moving the materials was a precursor to the formal proposal, Ramsey said.
“This will forever change the relationship COSBE has with the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said. “We are thrilled.”
— An overseer of the Evangelists’ Hall of Faith to organize and follow the process of nomination and election of Hall of Faith, including an EHOF induction ceremony. Bob Smith, COSBE’s immediate past secretary-treasurer, will fill the post.
— Taking over an existing entity in Mississippi referred to as “COSBE Publishing, Inc.” to develop as a non-profit which is currently operating as a 501(c)6.
Two recommendations made by the COSBE president’s council and approved by members were:
— To allow the president to appoint a committee to examine the constitution and bylaws and make a proposal for next year’s meeting.
— To create a president’s council asking all previous presidents to serve as a learning and advisory council.
Karen Willoughby and Joni B. Hannigan are freelance writers based in Mapleton, Utah, and Houston, respectively.