The Cove invites public to pay tribute to Billy Graham

A Christian retreat run by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) is inviting the public to come pay tribute to the late reverend. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

People from across the mountains and beyond started visiting a special place Wednesday afternoon -- the chapel at The Cove, part of the Billy Graham Training Center.

The visitors are coming to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the man who made it all happen.

Upon word of the the Rev. Billy Graham's death, The Cove was closed, but visitors were allowed to visit the chapel starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Even a man known as the ambassador of God had preachers of his own. Dr. Don Wilton was among those who stopped by The Cove on Wednesday.

"He's in the presence of the Lord Jesus. What could be happier, what could be greater than that?" Wilton said.

The many visitors found a photo memorial depicting the life of Graham, a minister known around the world who was also a down home mountain neighbor.

It was quiet in the chapel, but the mood was upbeat, even joyful as people bid farewell to Graham.

One visitor asked permission to play the piano that sat beside a photo collage documenting Graham's life. Some took pictures of the pictures. All were able to sign the guest book at Chatlos Memorial Chapel.

Jessica Vickers was driving home to Raleigh when she heard the news on the radio. She made a detour to The Cove, a place she felt she needed to be.

"I think for me it's a sense of peace, you know, knowing that he is, he's in a place that he's been longing to go," Vickers said.

People at The Cove said they wanted to provide a special place to reflect -- the chapel at that Ruth and Billy Graham loved so much.

"Sometimes I think in the business of our lives we forget that Jesus is the center," Kelly Doyle, of Winchester, Tennessee, said. "And I think I just feel like that's why we were brought here today is just to experience all of this, and it's a celebration of Billy Graham's life today."

"It's a celebration of Billy Graham's life today really, so it's just a wonderful experience to get to be here today," Fred Doyle said.

Many at The Cove worked with Graham for years and awakened to the news their friend was gone.

"He's left this earth, but I know I'll see him again someday. And so I'm excited about that, it's a celebration time," Barbara Mitchell, of the Billy Graham Training Center, said.

"He's being made perfect, in the presence of the Lord, and we're going to see him again. However, I'm going to miss him," Wilton said.

The public is invited from 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 p.m.- 5 p.m. Saturday.

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