This year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Illinois becoming our 21st state on Dec. 3, 1818, a year that also saw the births of first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, civil rights activist Frederick Douglass, and British novelist Emily Bronte.
Alive for almost half the lifetime of the state of Illinois was Rev. Billy Graham, who lived from 1918-2018, and had several ties to Illinois:
- In 1943 he graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, where he met his wife, Ruth. The college has a free Billy Graham Center museum in his honor: https://www.wheaton.edu/academics/academic-centers/billy-graham-center/
- After college, he served as pastor of Western Springs Baptist Church in Western Springs, IL before becoming an evangelist.
- He founded the Carol Stream, IL-based magazine Christianity Today in 1956. Here is their commemorative issue: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/billy-graham/
A documentary of his life also aired recently, entitled “Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey.”