March 9, 2023 : By Office of Communications & Public Engagement
World-renowned evangelist and Samaritan’s Purse president Franklin Graham will speak into the lives of Liberty University’s newest graduates as the keynote speaker for the Commencement Main Ceremony on May 12.
“Who better to send the Class of 2023 out into the world as Champions for Christ than Franklin Graham,” said Liberty Interim President Jerry Prevo. “The Graham family has been faithful friends and supporters of Liberty for a very long time. We have seen God use them to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world and come to the aid of so many families and countries in times of great disaster through the ministries of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). We are looking forward to hearing Franklin commission our new graduates to do the same as Champions for Christ.”
This year’s Commencement will be one of the largest in school history. Liberty is preparing to welcome a crowd of 60,000, including graduates, family members, and friends, for Commencement events taking place on campus over three days. More than 25,000 degrees will be conferred. Individual degree presentation ceremonies will be held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, May 11-13, at different campus locations. Graham will speak at the Commencement Main Ceremony, open to all graduates and guests, at 7 p.m. Friday, May 12, at Williams Stadium.
Franklin Graham has devoted his life to meeting the needs of people around the world and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The eldest son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, he serves as president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Through his work with Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham has been instrumental in helping people impacted by major crises for more than 45 years in over 170 countries, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, recent earthquakes in Turkey, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, 9/11 terrorist attacks, wars, and natural disasters across the globe. As an evangelist for the BGEA, he has held more than 325 outreaches in 55 countries. He regularly addresses current moral and social issues, calling Christians to stand for biblical values and challenging them to make a difference in the world for the sake of the Gospel.
Both Samaritan’s Purse and BGEA have been consistent partners of Liberty University, providing internship and service opportunities for students. LU Serve Now, the university’s disaster relief initiative, regularly partners with Samaritan’s Purse for domestic and international trips.
Liberty has had close ties to the Graham family over the years. Franklin Graham has visited the university many times, delivering keynote addresses at Commencement in 2001 and Baccalaureate in 1996. His father Billy Graham gave the keynote address at Commencement in 1997. Franklin Graham has spoken in many Convocations, most recently in 2020, when he invited students to join him in a prayer march in Washington, D.C. He also spoke at the funeral of Liberty’s founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, in 2007. Many members of the Graham family have attended Liberty, including Franklin’s four children, Edward, Cissie, Roy, and Will, who serves as a member of Liberty’s Board of Trustees and whose daughter, Rachel, is currently a student.
“It is a privilege to be invited to speak to the Class of 2023 at Liberty University,” Franklin Graham said. “We thank God for the vision that the founder and my friend, Dr. Jerry Falwell, had to raise up Champions for Christ. I get excited every time I visit campus to see that vision being fulfilled. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many Liberty students and graduates over the years, and I love their passion for doing God’s work. I am so grateful for the university’s mission and how they’ve stayed true to it since the beginning.”
For a full schedule of this year’s Commencement events, visit Liberty.edu/Commencement.