Grove City College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said this morning that, “Grove City College is saddened by the passing of a great man of God and the preeminent leader of the modern evangelical movement, the Rev. Billy Graham.”
“Rev. Graham was a friend of Grove City College. He embodied our core value of faithfulness in his remarkable commitment to the ministry of the gospel over the span of nearly eight decades. Now he is enjoying the eternal rest that he so tirelessly encouraged millions of people to envision,” McNulty said.
Graham’s connection to Grove City College included a longtime personal relationship with Grove City College’s foremost benefactor, 20th century industrialist and philanthropist, J. Howard Pew.
Rev. Graham was a “particular favorite” of Pew’s, according to “Freedom’s College: The History of Grove City College” and he began supporting the evangelist in 1948, when Rev. Graham was an unknown preacher from North Carolina. The two became confidantes and worked together with Nelson Bell to establish the magazine Christianity Today in the mid-50s. In December 1970, Graham wrote to Pew: “Evangelicalism is growing and much of the credit goes to you. You have been a great inspiration and blessing in my life. I thank you for it.” A copy of the note is in the College’s archives.
Rev. Graham spoke at Grove City College on numerous occasions over the years, Dr. John Van Til, a retired Grove City College professor of history, business and humanities, said. Van Til, currently a fellow for Humanities, Faith and Culture with the College’s Center for Vision & Values, had served in a speechwriting capacity for Rev. Graham at times and travelled with the evangelist when he visited Pew on his deathbed in 1971.