Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Breaks ground in North Carolina

Nov 04, 2002 03:00 AM EST

Officials of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association broke ground Tuesday (Oct. 29) for their new headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., a city that will become its home after more than 50 years in Minneapolis.

The evangelist and his son, Franklin, who is now president and CEO of the association, hosted the ceremony and unveiled architectural plans to about 500 government, business and religious leaders.

"This is not only the biggest project we have ever undertaken in terms of financial commitment, but in my view it also is one of the most important, because it decisively sets the stage for the future growth of our ministry around the world," said Billy Graham.

The cost of the 63-acre project was not announced Tuesday, said Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for Franklin Graham.

The younger Graham said the headquarters will be called the Billy Graham Center for World Evangelism.

His father thanked staffers who have decided to move to Charlotte and those who have not. About 70 employees are working in a transition office across from the street from the headquarters site on Billy Graham Parkway.

An estimated 400 employees will work at the headquarters site, which also will feature the Billy Graham Library. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2003. The headquarters building is expected to be completed in June 2004, with the library's completion scheduled for six months later.

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley welcomed the association to Charlotte, the city where Billy Graham was born.

"I commend this ‘favorite son’ for his faithful service to the gospel of Christ for more than 50 years," the mayor said, reading a proclamation that declared the day "Rev. Billy Graham Appreciation Day in North Carolina."

By Albert H. Lee