Gastonia church honors Reverend Billy Graham at Friday service

GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - Reverend Dickie Spargo of Bethlehem Church in Gastonia said he was first notified of Billy Graham's death when a member of his congregation called him earlier this week.

Spargo said his first thought was to rejoice.

"(Graham) said 'when you hear that I've died, really that's not true, I'm more alive than I've ever been in my life.' I was excited for him," said Spargo.

The Gastonia pastor said he wanted to take time during his weekend services to honor the late reverend. Spargo's Friday night sermon opened with a video about Graham.

"We want to give honor to those who are due honor and he certainly is. Of all the people who have served Christ, we just want to honor him and in such a way to inspire others to follow Christ the same way," said Spargo.

After the video, the pastor took time to speak about Graham and the message the late reverend preached.

"The Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the lord. I'm telling ya Billy Graham is kicking up some gold dust right now," Spargo preached to his congregation.

The pastor said he had taken a trip with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in the past. He noted that some members of his congregation actively work with the association.

Mark Gillming, another pastor at the church, said he had gotten to meet Graham while traveling and singing with different churches.

"We did a number of crusades where Billy Graham was there and we got to pass in the hall kind of thing," said Gillming.

He said he may try to watch a portion of Graham's procession as it makes its way toward Charlotte Saturday.

"He's kind of the son of Charlotte. Makes me proud. I'm glad he's coming back here," said Gillming.

Spargo encouraged members of his congregation to watch the funeral for Graham if they get a chance to.

The late reverend is set to be buried Friday March 2 in Charlotte.

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