Some say it was the largest single Gospel appeal in history. As billions of people around the world watched the funeral service for Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, the saving message of Jesus Christ was prominently proclaimed as the queen’s life and Christian faith were memorialized by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and others.
The state funeral and procession for the beloved queen, held Sept. 19 at Westminster Abbey in London, drew many of the world’s political leaders and dignitaries while hundreds of thousands lined the streets to pay their respects before the queen’s body was laid to rest. The queen, who was 96 when she died Sept. 8, was the country’s longest-serving monarch.
In his sermon, Welby said, “The pattern for many leaders is to be exalted in life and forgotten after death. The pattern for all who serve God—famous or obscure, respected or ignored—is that death is the door to glory.”
Noting that her coronation in 1953 began with Elizabeth in silent prayer, Welby added, “Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world, had its foundation in her following Christ—God Himself—who said that He ‘came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.’
“People of loving service are rare in any walk of life,” the archbishop said. “Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.”
Among the Scriptures read during the service were John 14:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 and 53-58.
Alluding to John 14, Welby remarked, “Jesus—Who in our reading does not tell His disciples how to follow, but Who to follow—said: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through Whom she followed.”
He added: “Christian hope means certain expectation of something not yet seen. Christ rose from the dead and offers life to all—abundant life now and life with God in eternity. … We can all share the queen’s hope, which in life and death inspired her servant leadership—service in life, hope in death. All who follow the queen’s example and inspiration of trust and faith in God can with her say, ‘We will meet again.’”
“God bless the queen!” Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook. “Her funeral service was the most-watched program of any in history. I believe Her Majesty wrote and scripted her entire service. It glorified God from the beginning to the end! It was filled with God’s Word. Over 4 billion people watching heard that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He came to earth to redeem us from our sins. She was very clear that she had put her faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and He was the anchor for her life. Over half the world’s population heard this. It was like God was using the queen to make one more call, one more invitation, to come to Him in repentance and faith. I was moved and thankful as I watched. God bless the queen!”
Billy Graham first met Queen Elizabeth in 1955 while in London for a Crusade at Wembley Stadium. They enjoyed a decades-long friendship rooted in their shared faith in Jesus Christ, which Mr. Graham detailed in his book “Just As I Am.”
In the hours after the queen’s death, BGEA’s Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains were deployed across the U.K., offering a ministry of presence to those who flocked to public spaces to mourn. Throughout the nearly two-week deployment, the chaplains prayed with more than 700 people, and witnessed numerous salvations and rededications.
One of those salvations was *Caroline, a woman who traveled from Holland to be among the crowds gathered in London’s Hyde Park to watch the service on a live video feed. After admitting to two RRT chaplains that her life was “a bit of a mess,” they shared the hope of the Gospel, and Caroline prayed to receive Christ as her Savior.
“I feel wonderful,” she told the chaplains. ©2022 BGEA
With additional reporting from Giovanna Albanese, BGEA social media supervisor.
*Name changed to protect privacy.