Billy Graham honored at funeral: 'He's in the presence of God'

Rev. Billy Graham will be laid to rest in Charlotte on Friday

Rev. Billy Graham will be laid to rest in Charlotte on Friday

Under a large white tent evoking her father's "Canvas Cathedral" revival almost seven decades ago, Anne Graham Lotz urged the Church, the world, and herself to "wake up!" as she joined her siblings and some 2,000 others at the funeral of her iconic evangelist father, Billy Graham, in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday.

The ceremony comes over a week after Graham's death at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, last Wednesday at age 99, and follows multiple days of public memorials in both Charlotte and Washington, where Graham became the fourth American in history to lay in honor in the US Capitol.

Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham, will deliver the eulogy, and his brother and three sisters will speak at the funeral as well.

They were there to honor Graham's father, the Rev. Billy Graham, pastor to presidents of any party and minister to millions more over seven decades.

Graham's life will also be memorialized by his pastor, Don Wilton, before being buried next to his wife Ruth on library grounds.

The service included performances by musicians who shared the stage with Graham at his crusades.

Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950, launching a global ministry that even attracted followers from liberal Protestant congregations and Catholic parishes.

"Amazing Grace" played by bagpipes concluded the service.

Still, loved ones said Graham saw himself as a humble preacher who would have been embarrassed by such fanfare. About 2,300 people gathered beneath a canvas tent emblematic of Graham's 1949 Los Angeles revival that marked his breakthrough as a religious leader.

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Graham graduated in 1943 with a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Wheaton College in IL, where he met Ruth Bell, his future wife. They are all friends who sang for Graham at his home in recent years, according to family spokesman Mark DeMoss. My hope is that there are enough leaders here across the board that President Trump won't suck the oxygen out of the room. His coffin was built by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, who typically construct caskets for fellow prisoners who can not afford one. Among the guests were President Donald Trump, the first lady and Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of NY was also invited to attend today's funeral.

Air Force One landed in Charlotte shortly before 11:15 a.m.

Pallbearers carry the casket of Rev. Billy Graham past family members as it returns to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, March 1, 2018.

"My deep appreciation to the delegation from North Carolina who, this morning, presented me with the flag that flew over the Capitol while my father was there to lie in honor", Franklin Graham tweeted. He also became close friends with President Lyndon Johnson and preached at the former president's funeral.

Gifford told reporters that Graham always remained humble through his faith. "You can watch the service live on my Facebook page at 12:00 noon Eastern", he tweeted.

The funeral came at the end of more than a week of mourning that included crowds lining the road for a procession from Graham's home in the mountains to Charlotte, where Graham grew up.

For now, more than a year into Mr. Trump's presidency, the two remain aligned.

A spokesman for former president George H.W. Bush told the Citizen Times that he and his wife, Barbara, are unable to travel to Charlotte, and a representative for former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that "he regrets he can not attend".

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