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Anne Graham Lotz Followed in Her Father’s Footsteps, Other Children Fall Short

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16

Three of Billy Graham’s children also are involved in Christian ministries. The most well-known is his son Franklin Graham. Franklin took over from his father as the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) many years ago and also serves as president of Samaritan’s Purse. Both are very large ministries, but with almost $400 million in annual revenues, Samaritan’s Purse is now more than four times larger than BGEA. Unfortunately, Franklin has had some concerns arise in the past that donors would want to take note of. Many years ago, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), the ministry self-regulatory body in which Billy Graham played a key role in starting, removed Samaritan’s Purse from membership due to concerns surrounding the personal use by Franklin of the ministry’s airplane. Eventually, Samaritan’s Purse was re-instated into ECFA membership and Franklin Graham maintains the ECFA was in error for removing the ministry from membership in the first place. More recently, Franklin Graham reportedly stopped taking contributions to his retirement plans from both ministries after it was reported his total compensation (he is, rather unusually, listed as a full time worker at both ministries and was drawing full salaries from both), including special retirement provisions, had exceeded $1 million in a single year. In 2011, the latest year compensation data is available, Franklin earned total compensation from Samaritan’s Purse and related organizations of $585,000 while also receiving additional compensation from BGEA totaling over $115,000, for a total of $700,000. This remains among the highest compensation packages in both Christian and secular relief and development groups. While the work of both BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse remains admirable, it is clear Franklin has not been as successful as his father in avoiding financial controversy, especially when it comes to taking moderate levels of compensation.

The youngest of the five Graham children, Ned Graham, ran East Gate Ministries International (EGMI). This is now a tiny ministry to China which never thrived after serious disruptions in the ministry in the late 1990’s due to Ned’s unfortunate personal behavior. The ministry withdrew its membership in the ECFA when its board and most of its staff resigned in the face of Ned’s failings. Sadly, Ned was unable to maintain the high levels of personal integrity his parents did and, as a result, his ministry never flourished.

On the positive end of the spectrum is daughter Ann Graham Lotz who founded AnGeL Ministries, a relatively small teaching ministry. Ann has lived a life of integrity and it is reflected not only in her outstanding teaching ministry, but also in her sacrificial approach to taking compensation from the ministry. In 2011, the most recent year figures are available, Ann paid herself only a little more than $7,000 in salary. This was a very small amount relative to the close to $1 million in revenues the ministry enjoyed. For all intents and purposes, Ann acted almost as a volunteer and did not divert meaningful amounts of ministry funds to herself. When she teaches, she sounds much like her father. She clearly learned from Billy how to operate every aspect of her ministry with integrity as well. As a result, her ministry’s impact goes well beyond its modest financial footprint.