Latino leaders in Philadelphia react to death of pastor Billy Graham
Rev. Bonnie Camarda and Nelson Diaz are among the city's leaders who mourned the passing of world-renowned evangelical preacher Billy Graham on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Reverend Billy Graham, whose work as a pastor and preacher attracted a following from all over the world, passed away at his home in North Carolina at the age of 99. Through his writing in columns and books, as well as traveling and organizing “crusades,” his message reached millions of people and established his position as one of the most powerful and well-known evangelical preachers of the past half-century.
Leaders from throughout the Latino community in Philadelphia, including those who worked with him in the Philadelphia crusade from 1991-1992, reacted to the passing of Billy Graham.
“He was a tremendous man of God who never deviated from his call that was his preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Reverend Bonnie Camarda, pastor and director of partnerships and government relations for The Salvation Army’s Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division. Camarda said that from her perspective as a member of the executive committee in Graham’s crusade in Philadelphia in 1991-1992, Graham focused on two things in his words and actions: preaching the Gospel, and emphasizing diversity.
“At least for our city, he really looked to see that his committee looked like the city of Philadelphia,” Camarda said.
“My hope is that his legacy will continue in the years to come,” Camarda said.
Nelson Diaz, lawyer, public servant, and business leader who was the chairperson of the 1991-1992 Philadelphia crusade, responded to Graham’s death in a written statement sent to AL DIA:
“I am deeply sorry for the passing of America’s pastor and my hero. For 55 years I have been listening to the hour of decision or the Graham recordings of his crusades which are always relevant to today. I was Chair of the 1991-92 Crusade and spoke at the Minnesota Crusade What a privilege that was to serve with a man of such humility, charisma, and non-judgmental spirit who kept to the most important message your life with Jesus Christ. I can see him rejoicing in the heavens for all of the salvation and comfort he brought to the world. If I can be invited to the funeral, I would love to attend. God bless you and all of his people who have been with him since the beginning until now.”
At the time of his death Graham was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, which he was first diagnosed with in 1993.