The Latest: Graham family holds graveside interment ceremony

The Latest: Graham family holds graveside interment ceremony

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the funeral of the Rev. Billy Graham (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Following a funeral service before 2,000 people, the Rev. Billy Graham's family has placed flowers on his casket at a private interment ceremony.

The private ceremony on Friday afternoon took place at his gravesite in a prayer garden at the Billy Graham Library. Family members placed white roses on the casket when the interment ceremony concluded.

Pastor Donald Wilton addressed them, reminding them of how much Graham looked forward to continuing his journey to Heaven. Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, South Carolina, frequently visited Graham in his final years and Graham came to view him as his pastor.

Graham was being buried next to his wife Ruth in the prayer garden.


1:20 p.m.

The final hymn of the Billy Graham funeral had special meaning for the evangelist, his friends and loved ones.

The audience sang "To God Be the Glory," which was also the closing hymn at the 2007 dedication of his library in Charlotte.

Graham's late music director Cliff Barrows, who helped Graham plan the funeral service starting a decade ago, has said it was his favorite hymn.

After the hymn, Graham's casket was led out of the tent while a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace."

Another of Graham's favorite hymns, "Because He Lives" was performed by the Gaither Vocal Band during the service. It has been featured on Billy Graham musical compilations

Gospel singers Michael W. Smith and Linda McCrary-Fisher also performed. The three performers are veterans of Graham's crusades and events, and were friends of his.


1:10 p.m.

The Rev. Billy Graham's son Franklin has delivered the main funeral message at his father's funeral service, saying that the famous evangelist was the same at home as he appeared to millions around the world.

He said that, "the Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadium was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home."

He added: "There weren't two Billy Grahams."

He also said his father believed in Heaven and has now gone on the journey that he'd been "looking forward to all of his life."

Franklin Graham now leads his father's evangelistic association and the relief agency Samaritan's Purse. He spoke from a podium used by his father for crusades in the 1990s.

His main address followed shorter messages from his four siblings and his aunt.


12:45 p.m.

The Rev. Billy Graham's adult children have been giving personal messages at his funeral.

Four of his children spoke near the beginning of the service under a big tent at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Anne Graham Lotz said that she believes God is sending a message by bringing Graham to Heaven.

Lotz said: "I believe God is saying: 'Wake up church! Wake up world!'"

She and three of her siblings spoke before her brother Franklin, who is scheduled to give the main funeral message.


12:20 p.m.

The funeral for The Rev. Billy Graham is featuring a song that harkens back to the revivals that helped launch his ministry seven decades ago.

Gospel singer Linda McCrary-Fisher started the service with the song "Until Then."

The song was written in 1958 by Stuart Hamblen, a cowboy singer who credited Billy Graham for his religious conversion. It was also recorded by Graham's late associate and close friend George Beverly Shea.

Hamblen also performed at the 1949 Los Angeles tent revival that helped launch Graham's career and became known as the "Canvas Cathedral."

The tent holding 2,000 or so mourners on Friday was inspired by the tent Graham used for the Los Angeles.

After the song, David Bruce, Graham's longtime executive assistant, formally welcomed attendees to the service on the grounds of Graham's library in Charlotte.


12:05 p.m.

The Rev. Billy Graham's casket has been brought into a tent filled with mourners to start his funeral service.

Graham's grandchildren served as pallbearers.

The pine casket lined with a mattress pad was made by prisoners at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

Graham's son Franklin was moved by seeing inmates build similar ones for other prisoners who couldn't afford caskets.

Graham's wife was buried in one of them in 2007.

Billy Graham's family says the casket was made with no upgrades, and only minor modifications to allow for easy transport.

The tent holding 2,000 or so mourners on Friday was inspired by the tent Graham used for the Los Angeles.



President Donald Trump has arrived at the funeral for the Rev. Billy Graham in North Carolina.

Trump is on hand to pay his respects along with Vice President Mike Pence, but neither are scheduled to address the crowd. Trump spoke earlier in the week in the Capitol Rotunda where Graham lay in honor.

Trump, Pence and their wives met privately with the Graham family before the service. Then they were escorted to their seats in the large tent where the service is being held.

Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton came to the public viewing of Graham's casket in Charlotte earlier in the week. The younger Bush said his father couldn't make it to a memorial service. Former presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter also said they weren't able to attend.


11:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend the funeral of the Rev. Billy Graham.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived shortly after 11 a.m. EST Friday.

The president is not scheduled to speak at the funeral at Graham's namesake library in Charlotte.

Trump eulogized Graham earlier this week during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, where Graham's body lay in honor in the Rotunda.

Graham died last week at age 99.


11:10 a.m.

Famous mourners from the world of music, television and evangelism are arriving ahead of the funeral for the Rev. Billy Graham in North Carolina.

Television host Kathie Lee Gifford, musician Ricky Skaggs and evangelist Rick Warren are among those who have come to the tent in Charlotte where the service is being held.

Gifford told reporters that Graham always remained humble through his faith.

Warren said Graham was a major influence on how he learned how to preach.

9:35 a.m.

It's a cold but sunny morning in Charlotte, North Carolina, where mourners wearing scarves, overcoats and ear muffs are filing into a huge tent where the funeral service for the Rev. Billy Graham will be held.

People began arriving as early at 7 a.m. on Friday, well in advance of the scheduled noon start for the services. Most people were standing around talking to one another as recorded hymns were played. Some 2,000 people are expected to attend, including President Donald Trump.

A steady breeze was flowing through the tent, adding to the morning chill and offsetting the clear skies. Winds were expected to be gusty throughout the morning.


3:24 a.m.

Mourners are gathering to pay their respects to the Rev. Billy Graham at a funeral that marks the culmination of more than a week of tributes to "America's Pastor."

The service, scheduled to start at noon Friday, is to include performances by musicians who shared the stage with Graham at his crusades. The Rev. Franklin Graham will deliver the main funeral address for his father after personal messages from Billy Graham's three daughters and younger son. President Donald Trump is expected to attend, but isn't scheduled to speak.

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

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