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Asheville’s Rev. Franklin Graham delivers conservative message to eclectic hometown
Sunday, 03 November 2019 14:27
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The Rev Franklin Graham’s Decision America Tar Heel State Tour, which made its final stop in Asheville, provided a message of hope in words and music in a veritable pep rally for traditional Christianity that drew a full house on late afternoon Oct. 13 at downtown’s U.S. Cellular Center.

An estimated 5,500 people attended in what appeared to be a sellout event to hear an Asheville native who — at least according to Asheville’s television station WLOS’ report — is considered “one of America’s most controversial ministers.”

Outside, there were protesters — mainly clad in black — who stayed until the end. “Those who spoke with us say they’re concerned about the preacher’s position on the rights of LGBTQ persons, and marriage equality,” WLOS reported immediately afterward.

“This particular political group-religious group has supported for the last 30 or so years policies that have killed a lot of people,” WLOS quoted Moira Goree of Asheville as saying at the event.

Franklin Graham is the fourth of five children of the late Rev. Billy Graham, a world-renowned preacher and evangelist, and his wife Ruth Bell Graham, who lived in nearby Montreat. One of Billy Graham’s biographers has placed Billy Graham “among the most influential Christian leaders” of the 20th century, according to Wikipedia. 

His eldest son Franklin, 67, who lives in nearby Boone, has followed in his father’s footsteps and took the helm of the latter’s evangelical empire during his father twilight years. Billy Graham died at age 99 on Feb 21, 2018 at his Montreat home.

In addition to serving as president and chief executive officer of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Franklin Graham is president of Boone-based Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization. 

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson shares experiences, insights
Sunday, 03 November 2019 14:10

Activist-author-journalist addresses ‘Be the Change: Creating Peace Within and Without’

MILLS RIVER — Dr. Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas K. Ghandi, aka “the Mahatma” or “great soul”), addressed “Be the Change: Creating Peace Within and Without” during two separate sold-out addresses — one in the morning and one in the evening — Oct. 5 in the sanctuary at Unity of the Blue Ridge.

Approximately 230 people attended each of Gandhi’s two talks at Unity.

What’s more, on Oct. 6, the Unity church in Mills River celebrated its 70th anniversary with a combined service with a rededication blessing by Dr. Arun Gandhi.

“Unity, known informally as Unity Church, is a New Thought Christian organization that publishes the Daily Word devotional publication,” Wikipedia said of Unity.

In conjunction with his visit, Unity held a weekly fall book study, led by the Rev. ´Élan Lambert, of Dr. Arun Gandhi’s book, “The Gift of Anger and Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi,” which ran from Sept. 19 to Oct. 24.

The morning program, which the Daily Planet covered, opened with an interfaith processional, which included Gandhi; a welcome and opening prayer by the Rev. Darlene Strickland, Unity’s senior minister; a haunting version of “Song of Peace” ballad sung by Asheville’s Kat Williams, who was the event’s featured vocalist, along with her soul-stirring rendition of “If You’re Out There,” which drew much applause from the audience — and other songs.

Williams was accompanied by Unity’s Unitic Band, led by Asheville’s Richard Shulman, who plays piano in the four-piece group, along with serving as its music director.

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