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Scholars gather for conference on life, legacy of Billy Graham

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CHARLOTTE -- Scholars from around the country were in Charlotte Friday for a conference on the life and legacy of evangelist Billy Graham.

The 95-year-old Charlotte native is known around the world for his messages.

Decades later evangelist Billy Graham's words still resonate with believers and scholars.

"He had a remarkable ability to sense the trends of the age, to address the issues that people were concerned about," said Duke professor Grant Wacker.

Wacker spent the last five years working on the book “Billy Graham and the Shaping of Modern America” which chronicles Graham's cultural significance.

"The culture was ready for that kind of mass communication. His age is gone now, the world has changed, and I don't think we'll see another Billy Graham," said Wacker.

Wacker and other leading Graham scholars came together Friday in Charlotte to reflect on Graham's lengthy career which first garnered attention during an eight week crusade in the late 1940s.

"It's in 1949, in Los Angeles. He's propelled into something much larger," said Wacker.

The 95 year old has struggled with his health and remains at home in Montreat.

However, Wacker says Graham's unprecedented counsel to 11 U.S. presidents still makes him important for aspiring candidates.

"There is no one person whose, in a sense, blessing, counts in the same way his does," said Wacker.

Friday's conference included Billy Graham's sister and brother-in-law Leighton Ford who now works in leading his own ministry.

"Someone said, 'what was it like to be in Billy Hraham's shadow?' I said, it was a mighty big shadow, and it was more the light to spread around the world," said Graham's brother-in-law Ford.

Friday's conference also included a new 50-minute documentary on Billy Graham's life.

The Billy Graham Library opened in west Charlotte in 2007.

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