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Billy Graham: Influential US evangelist dies at 99

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Graham died at his home in North Carolina

US evangelist Billy Graham – one of the most influential preachers of the 20th Century – has died aged 99.

Graham became one of the best-known promoters of Christianity, beginning his worldwide mission in large arenas in London in 1954.

He died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said.

In a 60-year career, he is estimated to have personally preached to 210 million people.

Graham reached millions more through TV.

He became a committed Christian at the age of 16 after hearing a travelling evangelist and was ordained a minister in 1939.

He came to wider attention in the United States when he held a two-month ministry in a giant tent in Los Angeles in 1949.

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Preaching in Paris in 1986

At first ambivalent about the civil rights movement in the US, he went on to become a supporter in the 1950s with racially integrated congregations.

Graham avoided the scandals which dogged some contemporary televangelists. His fiery delivery became more measured with advancing years and controversy surrounding the techniques of mass evangelism.

Graham, a friend of US presidents from Truman to Nixon and Obama, preached his final revival meeting in New York in 2005 at the age of 86.

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