Franklin Graham Commends Viral Valedictorian for Invoking Jesus in Keynote

AP Photo/Chris Seward

Celebrated evangelist Franklin Graham gave a shout-out Thursday to high school valedictorian Lydia Owens for invoking the name of Jesus Christ in her graduation commencement address.

Owens was the valedictorian and senior class president at Woodmont High School in South Carolina whose commencement speech went viral this week because “she wasn’t ashamed to talk about God,” Rev. Graham told his 10 million Facebook followers.

“She encouraged her classmates by telling them that they were made in the image of God, and she shared that Jesus Christ was the one who helped her through losing her mother,” Graham noted.

Lydia Owens was valedictorian and senior class president at her South Carolina high school, and this week her…

Posted by Franklin Graham on Thursday, June 8, 2023

In her three-minute speech, Owens invoked the memory of her mother, who died two years ago.

“When tragedy struck my life, it was not my grades nor my accomplishments that helped me navigate through that loss,” she said. “When everything else in my life felt uncertain, the only person I could depend on to stay the same was Jesus.”

Owens credits her mom as being the biggest inspiration in her life, in large part because of her deep faith in Jesus.

“She always pushed me to be my best self and always encouraged me in my faith,” she said. “She’s the reason that I have such a strong faith. She was the example of how to be a Godly woman and how to love people intentionally.”

Commenting on her commencement address, Rev. Graham told Lydia that “many will never forget what you said.”

“Congratulations on your graduation — may God bless and guide your next steps!” he said.


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