The Billy Graham Center opened in 1980 through the collaboration of Wheaton College and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Rev. Billy Graham sought to develop a center for strategic planning, inspiration, and preparation of leaders to fuel the evangelism mission of the Church in the world. After completing two global conferences (Berlin 1966 and Lausanne 1974), he was convinced of the need for an institution to continually stimulate and accelerate the Great Commission.
Wheaton College shared his vision and together they birthed and resourced the Billy Graham Center. In his dedication address, Mr. Graham stated his vision that the BGC would be a "world hub of inspiration, research, preaching, and training that will glorify Christ and serve every church and organization in preaching and teaching the gospel to the world." Since it opened nearly 35 years ago, the Center has played an integral part in providing training, inspiration, and networking in the task of world evangelism.
Most recently, the Center housed ten departments which lived out the goal of accelerating global evangelism in unique ways. The departments included the BGC Archives, BGC Museum, BGC Scholarship Program, Institute for Cross-Cultural Training, Institute for Strategic Evangelism, Institute for Prison Ministries, Muslim Ministries department, Ethnic Ministries department, and a publications department.
On July 1, 2014, the Billy Graham Center was renamed the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism (BGCE) to more clearly define the purpose of the Center. The Center underwent a vast reorganization in order to more clearly focus itself on the mission of training Christians for Christ-centered evangelism. A number of departments, including the BGC Archives, BGC Scholarship Program, and the Institute for Cross-Cultural Training, were moved to other parts of the Wheaton College campus.
The core training departments with a primary emphasis on evangelism remain at the center of the BGCE’s ministry. Added to this, two Master of Arts programs, Evangelism & Leadership and Missional Church Movements, are now housed under the BGCE, thus strengthening the opportunities for training and the potential to develop thoughtful practitioners who seek to share Jesus well. The new BGCE also houses the newly established Institute for Faith and Vocation.