ShareThis Page
World

Songs, heartfelt words at funeral for Rev. Billy Graham

| Friday, March 2, 2018, 12:39 p.m.
The casket of The Rev. Billy Graham is moved during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The casket of The Rev. Billy Graham is moved during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The casket of The Rev. Billy Graham is moved during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The casket of The Rev. Billy Graham is moved during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
President Donald Trump listens to a sermon during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
President Donald Trump listens to a sermon during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump, left, and Vice President Mike Pence, and wife Karen Pence arrive ahead of a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C.(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump, left, and Vice President Mike Pence, and wife Karen Pence arrive ahead of a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C.(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Pallbearers carry the casket of the Rev. Billy Graham past family members as it returns to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, March 1, 2018. His funeral will be Friday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Pallbearers carry the casket of the Rev. Billy Graham past family members as it returns to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, March 1, 2018. His funeral will be Friday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., Friday, March 2, 2018, to travel to Charlotte, N.C. to attend the funeral of Reverend Billy Graham. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., Friday, March 2, 2018, to travel to Charlotte, N.C. to attend the funeral of Reverend Billy Graham. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham's children remembered “America's Pastor” on Friday as someone so thoroughly devoted to spreading the Gospel that he lived his life at home as he preached it in stadiums, with a personable humility and an unwavering focus on the Bible. As his oldest son told the funeral congregation, “There weren't two Billy Grahams.”

His adult children — all speakers or preachers in their own right — recalled being taught by their parents how to read Scripture aloud and deliver sermons, but also taking quiet walks with their father and receiving his plainspoken wisdom.

Franklin Graham, who delivered the main funeral message, said all of those qualities were part of the whole.

“The Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadiums was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home. There weren't two Billy Grahams,” he said. “He loved his family. He stood by us. He comforted us. He left us an enduring legacy: His uncompromising testimony of God's great love.”

Franklin Graham's funeral message, which included a Gospel call to repentance and salvation, followed shorter remarks by his siblings in a service that lasted just over an hour before an invitation-only crowd of approximately 2,000.

“I believe, from Heaven's perspective, that my father's death is as significant as his life. And his life was very significant. But I think when he died that was something very strategic from Heaven's point of view,” said his daughter Anne Graham Lotz, later adding: “I believe God is saying: ‘Wake up church! Wake up world!'”

The noon service commenced with the evangelist's family bringing in his casket, followed by a renditions of some of Graham's favorite music. Linda McCrary-Fisher's performance of “Until Then” included the poignant lyric, “my heart will go on singing ... until the day God calls me home.”

The congregation included President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and their wives. The service was streamed live online. Neither Pence nor Trump spoke during the service, but they met privately with the family beforehand.

The funeral planning began a decade ago with Billy Graham himself, and it also reflected his family's desire to capture the feeling of the crusades that made him the world's best-known Protestant preacher of his era.

“His fingerprints are on this service for sure,” family spokesman Mark DeMoss said in a phone interview before the funeral. “The Graham family has long considered that his funeral eventually would really be his last crusade.”

Graham, who died last week at age 99, brought a message of salvation to millions during visits and live broadcasts to scores of countries.

The service featured songs from gospel musicians who performed at Graham's events: McCrary-Fisher, Michael W. Smith and the Gaither Vocal Band. They are all friends who sang for Graham at his home in recent years, DeMoss said.

Other notable guests included North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. His immediate predecessor, Pat McCrory, was already in the tent hours before the service and doing commentary for a radio station.

Graham will be buried next to his wife in a memorial prayer garden at the library, with his grandchildren serving as pallbearers. His pine plywood casket was made by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The grave marker reads: “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Earlier, crowds lined the road for a procession from Graham's home in the mountains to Charlotte, where Graham grew up. Approximately 13,000 people — including former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — filed past his casket during a public viewing in Charlotte this week. And on Wednesday, Graham became the first private citizen since civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005 to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me