Bios: Plenary Session Keynote Speakers
Plenary IV, May 11, 4 p.m.
Raised in northeast India, Robert Cunville dedicated his life to Christ as a young man when he went to hear a barefoot evangelist preach one evening. Afterward, he felt called to full-time ministry, which meant changing his original plans to attend law school. A graduate of Serampore College near Kolkata, Cunville became the first member of the Khasi tribe to earn a Master of Theology degree. Before joining the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Crusades team in 1978, he served as youth secretary of the North East India Christian Council and as pastor of Union Chapel, a church in Kolkata. Today, he is president of United Bible Societies. Cunville and his wife, Caroline, have two children and five grandchildren.
Plenary IX, May 12, 8 p.m.
Sami Dagher was born in Rmeileh, Lebanon. As a young man, he heard the gospel while working at the InterContinental Hotel in London. In 1971, he was invited to the International Conference of Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam. As he listened to Billy Graham preach about the need for the gospel in Europe and the Middle East, Dagher felt called to full-time ministry. He resigned from the InterContinental Hotel in 1973 to begin mission work in Lebanon, then left Lebanon after the Gulf War to do Christian missionary work in Iraq. Over the course of his ministry, Dagher has started six churches in Lebanon, one church in Baghdad, a ministry center in Iraq, a ministry center in Kurdistan, and Bible schools in Lebanon and Sudan. He also helps displaced people and refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
Plenary I, May 10, 7 p.m.
The son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, Franklin Graham has served as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association since 2001, and as president and CEO of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse since 1979. At age 22, after a period of rebellion and traveling the world, Graham committed his life to Jesus Christ while alone in a hotel room in Jerusalem. Soon after, Bob Pierce, founder of both Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision, invited him on a six-week trip to Asia. During this trip Graham felt a calling to work with hurting people in areas of the world affected by war, famine, disease and natural disasters. Under his leadership, Samaritan’s Purse has met the needs of suffering people in more than 100 countries. As an evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he has led festivals around the world. Graham and his wife, Jane, live in Boone, N.C.
Plenary V, May 11, 7 p.m.
Jack Graham is pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the nation’s largest congregations, with nearly 42,000 members and two locations in North Texas. He is also founder and president of PowerPoint Ministries, and his teaching is seen and heard around the world on PowerPoint’s radio and TV programs. He is the author of numerous books, including his newest release, Angels: Who They Are, What They Do and Why It Matters. Graham was honorary chairman of the 2015 National Day of Prayer and has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.
Plenary III, May 11, 11 a.m.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk was born in Moscow. He took his monastic vows at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1987. The metropolitan holds doctorates from Oxford University and St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris. In 2009, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia, and on Feb. 1, 2010, to the rank of metropolitan. As rector of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute of Post-Graduate Studies, he is actively involved in the reform of theological education. He is also chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate of Moscow. Since September 2009, the metropolitan has hosted The Church and the World talk show, broadcast weekly in Russia. He is also the author of many publications focused on topics ranging from early Christian theologians and church history to dogmatic theology.
Plenary II, May 11, 9 a.m.
Peter Kuzmič is the Eva B. and Paul E. Toms Distinguished Professor of World Missions and European Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, dividing his time between teaching and missionary work in the Balkans. A native of Slovenia and a citizen of Croatia in former Yugoslavia, Kuzmič is the foremost evangelical scholar in Eastern Europe and an internationally recognized authority on the Christian response to Marxism and Christian ministry in post-communist contexts. Kuzmič is founding president of the first evangelical theological college in Eastern Europe with an accredited graduate program; he also founded Agape International, an evangelical relief ministry in Croatia and Bosnia. His expertise on the Balkan conflict has earned him the privilege of being a regular source for international media and serving as an adviser on reconciliation for international leaders. An award-winning writer, Kuzmič has authored eight books and hundreds of articles.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
Plenary VII, May 12, 11 a.m.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is president of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue. He was president of the Network for Interfaith Relations of the Anglican Communion before serving as bishop of Rochester from 1994 to 2009. Between 1997 and 2003, Nazir-Ali was a member of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority and chair of its Ethics and Law Committee, and he was also chair of the Rochester Commission on women bishops. He has served as general secretary of the Church Mission Society and, beginning in 1999, was a member of the House of Lords, where he was active in a number of areas of national and international concern. Nazir-Ali has studied, researched and taught at colleges and universities in Karachi as well as Oxford and Cambridge. He has authored several books, the most recent of which is Faith, Freedom and the Future: Challenges for the 21st Century.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Plenary VI, May 12, 9 a.m.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl is the archbishop of Washington. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI and serves on a number of Vatican congregations, including those for the Doctrine of the Faith, for Bishops, and for Clergy. He serves on the Pontifical Councils for Promoting Christian Unity and for Culture as well as the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. He has written numerous articles and over a dozen books, including To the Martyrs: A Reflection on the Supreme Christian Witness, and contributed to the best-selling catechism The Teaching of Christ. Wuerl was born in Pittsburgh and received graduate degrees from The Catholic University of America, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and the University of St. Thomas in Rome. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II on Jan. 6, 1986, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. He served as auxiliary bishop in Seattle until 1987 and then as bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years until his appointment to Washington, D.C.
Plenary VIII, May 12, 4 p.m.
Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014. Zacharias has spoken all over the world in scores of colleges and universities, including Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins and Cambridge. Born in India in 1946, Zacharias immigrated to Canada with his family 20 years later. He received his M.Div. from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been honored with six doctoral degrees, including a Doctor of Laws and a Doctor of Sacred Theology. Zacharias has authored or edited more than 20 books. He has appeared on CNN and Fox as well as international broadcasts. His weekly radio program, Let My People Think, airs on 2,337 outlets worldwide; his weekday program, Just Thinking, on 721; and his one-minute Just a Thought on 488. Additionally, his TV program, Let My People Think, is broadcast internationally in several countries, including Indonesia.