ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Commonly referred to as "America's Pastor," Rev. Billy Graham was the spiritual advisor to 13 presidents including Donald Trump. He made two visits to the Flower City in his lifetime.
"And they keep saying that it was almost like I was in the presence of God," said Dr. James Evans, Faculty Emeriti at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
Across America, the faith community is remembering Rev. Billy Graham. Here in Rochester, his message is being remembered by those who received it first hand.
"You know the person that you see on TV, all of a sudden, right, is in front of you. And they seem bigger than life, which is what he did seem to me," said Rev. Myra Brown of the Spiritus Christi Church.
Rev. Brown volunteered her time as an alter worker when Graham spoke before thousands at Silver Stadium in Rochester.
"To kind of learn, up close and be part of something so huge, and the ministry that he was doing, and really see God working through him and touching lives, you know, and these were really memorable moments that you just didn't forget," said Rev. Brown.
"So Billy Graham, brought to it a personal touch. He personalized Evangelicalism," said Dr. Evans.
However, his 1988 appearance was not the Reverend's first visit to the Flower City. He was invited to speak at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in 1957.
"So you have to think of the image of him speaking at this highly progressive, theological institution," said Dr. Evans.
The former faculty member says that nonpartisanship was one of Graham's most influential traits.
"But he was a person that crossed those boundaries. He was a person that got invited to places like Colgate Rochester even though he was a Southern Baptist," said Dr. Evans
"He was really able to, I think, cross into all communities," said Rev. Brown.
"And so that was something that was a very powerful force on the campus at that time," said Dr. Evans.
Both say the Reverend's message of inclusion was something that everyone can still learn from.
"He, for the most part, treated everyone exactly the same and I think that's something we can really try to learn from," said Dr. Evans.
"And one of his staple legacies was inclusion, and that seems to be at threat these days," said Rev. Brown.
"I think that, that was his great gift," said Dr. Evans.