The funeral service to lay to rest internationally influential Christian evangelist Rev. Billy Graham was held on Friday at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Graham family and other dignitaries were seated under a 28,000-square-foot tent in the parking lot of the library, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).
“The tent is meant to recall Graham’s 1949 crusade in Los Angeles, which was held under two circus tents that came to be called the ‘Canvas Cathedral,'” according to the report. “It was that eight-week crusade that first brought the Charlotte-born evangelist to the nation’s attention.”
Here’s more on the LA crusade, via NBC News:
There is a historical marker in front of the county courthouse at the intersection of Hill Street and Washington Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, a city not particularly noted for its long history.
It commemorates the remarkable eight weeks in the fall of 1949 when, night after night, a 30-year-old Southern Baptist preacher named Billy Graham got up in a giant tent and exhorted crowds of hundreds and then thousands of people — almost 400,000 by the time he was through — to confess their sins and accept Jesus as their savior.
The so-called Canvas Crusade made Graham a star and launched him on a six-decade career that sent him to every corner of the world many times over, making him arguably the most famous religious leader of the 20th century.
Graham’s service was dubbed “Billy Graham’s Last Crusade” by BGEA spokesperson Mark DeMoss, because “the Gospel is going out, the same as if he were still preaching.”
According to a live report from the BGEA, the charismatic pastor initially requested that he did not want his own name referenced at his funeral, but he instead wanted the name of Jesus Christ preached.
Here’s more on the service:
Friday’s funeral, including the hymns, was planned by Graham himself, working with his longtime music director Cliff Barrows, who died in 2016.
Among the music planned: Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith will sing “Above All” and the Gaither Vocal Band will perform one of Graham’s favorite hymns, “Because He Lives.”
Son Franklin Graham, who’s also an evangelist, will give the message at the service, which will include remarks from Billy Graham’s four other children – Virginia “Gigi” Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Ruth Graham and Ned Graham. Also set to speak: Graham’s only surviving sibling, Jean Ford, who lives in Charlotte.
Other members of Graham’s family – including 11 of his grandsons – will serve as pallbearers. They will alternate accompanying the casket to and from the tent.
Rev. Donald Wilton of First Baptist Church of Spartanburg read from the Bible during the service. “Graham joined that church in his later years and would watch its Sunday services on TV from his Montreat home,” BGEA reports. “Wilton would visit him nearly every week.”
Here’s a tribute to “America’s Pastor,” via Fox News:
Graham’s grave marker will reportedly read:
November 7, 1918-February 21, 2018
Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence attended the funeral service as well as “visiting ministers from the Middle East, India and South Korea.”
Charlotte Observer reports those who attended included: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Cabinet member Ben Carson, Sen. Thom Tillis, Sen. Richard Burr, Rep. Robert Pittenger, Rep. Alma Adams, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Luci Baines Johnson, commentator Greta Van Susteren [and] Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
Other dignitaries who attended the funeral included: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Senator Ted Cruz, US Ambassador Nikki Haley, Pastor David Platt, Christian Author Max Lucado, CEO of Chick-fil-A Dan Cathy.
A previously published list of attendees from Citizen Times included: gospel singer Linda McCrary-Fisher, Graham’s executive assistant David Bruce, choir director Tom Bledsoe, Grammy Award winner Michael W. Smith, Beirut pastor Sami Dagher, Graham’s interpreter in Seoul Billy Kim, the Gaither Vocal Band, bagpipe escort William Boetticher, pianist John Innes, BGEA’s vice president of crusades Viktor Hamm.
On Wednesday, a ceremony was held for Graham in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. where the pastor was the fourth person ever to be “laid in honor.”
Per the Daily Caller:
The thousands of visitors paying respects to the late Rev. Billy Graham at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday were greeted by four special guests when they entered the Capitol Rotunda: Billy Graham’s son and three grandsons.
Each person entering the space room under the Capitol Dome was treated to a private conversation with Graham’s eldest son, Franklin. The younger Graham followed in his father’s footsteps, and is a Christian evangelist and missionary. Franklin stood at the end of the room and shook the hand of every faithful person who entered.
Mr. Graham told The Daily Caller, in between hugs and handshakes from beaming strangers, he “will stand here as long as I am able.”
“These people stood outside for us and for my father,” he continued. “I will stand here for them. We love them and so does God.”