Montreat, North Carolina, USA: Reverend Billy Graham’s body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington for a two-day viewing on Feb. 28 and March 1, part of nine days of mourning for “America’s Pastor” who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina at age 99.
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday announced the plans to honor Graham at the Capitol, a rite usually accorded presidents and other statesmen. Billy Graham becomes the second private citizen accorded such recognition after civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005.
Billy Graham will be laid to rest March 2 at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway at the worldwide headquarters of his evangelical empire in Charlotte, buried in a simple prison-made plywood coffin next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007.
His tombstone will read “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A viewing will also be held at Graham’s Charlotte library on Monday and Tuesday.
The North Carolina-born farm boy reached hundreds of millions of listeners around with the world with his rallies — or what he called “crusades” — and his pioneering use of television.
More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the U.S., and he became a confidant of presidents and other leaders.
His coffin was built by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, who typically construct caskets for fellow prisoners who cannot afford one.
Graham’s son the Rev. Franklin Graham toured the prison in 2005 and said he was so moved by the simple boxes lined with a mattress pad with a wooden cross nailed to the top that he asked for ones for his mother and father.
The funeral at Graham’s Charlotte headquarters will be held in a tent in the main parking lot of the library in tribute to the tent revivals in Los Angeles in 1949 that propelled him to international fame, family spokesman Mark Demoss said.
About 2,000 people are expected at the private, invitation-only funeral, and invitations are being sent to President Donald Trump and the five living ex-presidents, DeMoss said.
Around Montreat, where Graham lived, he was a humble presence known to slip quietly into a local church for Sunday services.
EARLIER: Billy Graham Will Lie In Repose For 2 Days Next Week, Funeral On March 2 – Montreat, North Carolina, USA: Reverend Billy Graham will lie in repose Monday and Tuesday next week and a funeral will be held on March 2, Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the DeMoss Group, a public relations firm handling the arrangements said today.
DeMoss says Graham’s body will be taken from Asheville to Charlotte on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. The procession is expected to take 3 ½ hours, ending at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.
DeMoss says invitations will be extended to President Donald Trump and former presidents.
He says Graham’s son Franklin Graham will perform the eulogy.
The Rev. Billy Graham, counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died today – at his home in Montreat, North Carolina – at age 99. He had been treated in recent years for cancer, pneumonia and other ailments. His wife, Ruth, died in 2007.
Graham reached an estimated 200 million people through his appearances and millions more through his pioneering use of television and radio.
EARLIER: Preacher Billy Graham Dies At 99 – Montreat, North Carolina, USA: Reverend Billy Graham died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina this morning aged 99, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said. Graham became one of the best-known promoters of Christianity, preaching to audiences worldwide in large arenas, beginning in London in 1954.
In a 60-year career, he is estimated to have personally preached to an estimated 210 million people.
Graham reached millions more through TV.
Graham grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a Presbyterian with dreams of playing professional baseball.
His conversion to the Southern Baptist faith came in 1934 at the age of 16 when he heard a traveling evangelist in his hometown. A few years later he decided to become a preacher. He was ordained a minister in 1939.
His breakthrough as an evangelist came in 1949 when a three-week tent campaign, or “crusade”, in Los Angeles was extended to eight weeks.
In 1957 he preached nightly for 16 weeks in New York’s Madison Square Garden, according to the Graham organisation.
Graham avoided the scandals which dogged some contemporary televangelists. His fiery delivery became more measured with advancing years and controversy surrounding the techniques of mass evangelism.
Graham retired to his mountain home at Montreat, N.C., in 2005 after nearly six decades on the road calling people to Christ at 417 all-out preaching and musical events from Miami to Moscow. His final New York City crusade in 2005 was sponsored by 1,400 regional churches from 82 denominations.
He took his Bible to the ends of the Earth in preaching tours he called “crusades.” Presidents called on Graham in their dark hours, and uncounted millions say he showed them the light.
“The GREAT Billy Graham is dead,” President Trump tweeted. “There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, noting Graham’s humble beginnings, said that “because he yielded himself to God, he was used to accomplish the extraordinary — forever impacting the lives of countless people.”
Graham was listed on Gallup’s annual US poll of most admired people 61 times, including in 2017, more than any other world figure.
The person with the second most appearances on the list, which began in 1946, was Ronald Reagan with 31.
It seemed an unlikely honour when Graham was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989 but the chairman of the selection committee said: “I can’t think of anybody in the world who has used radio, television and motion pictures in a more positive way.”