Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Roy Cooper to attend Billy Graham's funeral

Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Roy Cooper to attend Billy Graham's funeral
(Source: AP image)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The White House announced Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence will be in attendance for the late Billy Graham's funeral Friday.

Rev. Graham's funeral will be held on Friday at noon. The private, invite-only service will be held on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library under a tent. Family members said they thought it was fitting, since the evangelist's public service began under a tent, or "canvass cathedral."

The vice president will be joining President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in Charlotte.

Following the funeral, the vice president will travel to Detroit, Michigan where he will deliver remarks at an America First Policies event.

Governor Roy Cooper will also be in attendance Friday, according to the governor's press office. On Thursday, the city of Charlotte announced that Mayor Vi Lyles will be attending Graham's funeral.

Over 13,000 people attended Rev. Billy Graham's public visitation Monday and Tuesday in Charlotte.

Visitors began paying respects at 8 a.m. Monday at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. Graham's body was lying in repose at the Graham Family Homeplace through Tuesday.

Related: Click here more about "America's Pastor" Rev. Billy Graham

The homestead was built on the family's dairy farm in 1927 on Park Road and later moved to the grounds of the Billy Graham Library.

George Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush arrived just before 4 p.m. on Monday to pay tribute to Graham at the library bearing Graham's name.

Former President Bill Clinton paid his respects to the late Billy Graham on Tuesday at Graham's childhood home in Charlotte.

"While we all believe that it's faith plus nothing, he wasn't a faith plus nothing. He lived. He showed his faith by his works," Mr. Clinton said of Rev. Graham.

Former presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter will not be in attendance for the funeral, according to their spokesperson.

Charlotte-born evangelist Reverend William Franklin "Billy" Graham Jr. died just before 8 a.m. Wednesday from natural causes at his family home in Montreat, NC, just outside Asheville. He turned 99 on Nov. 7.

Once the service is complete, Reverend Graham will be buried beside his late wife, Ruth, whose grave is at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Library's Prayer Garden.

Ruth Bell Graham passed away in 2007.

The funeral is expected to last 90 minutes, according to an official with the Billy Graham Library.

The tent serves as a reminder of how Mr. Graham's ministry launched under "The Canvas Cathedral"—a white canvas tent during a 1949 Crusade in downtown Los Angeles, where 350,000 people heard him share the Gospel over a period of eight weeks.

"It was Mr. Graham's explicit intent that his funeral service reflect and reinforce the Gospel message he preached for more than 60 years," said Mark DeMoss, spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Franklin Graham will deliver the funeral message, and Dr. Donald Wilton and Dr. David Bruce will speak at the interment service. Dr. Wilton was Mr. Graham's pastor and a close friend in recent years. Dr. Bruce served for 23 years as Mr. Graham's executive assistant.

Trump is planning to attend the service.

Billy Graham Parkway will be closed in both directions between South Tryon Street (NC 49) and Tyvola Road at 9 p.m. on Thursday until the funeral is over on Friday afternoon.

Related: Preps underway at Billy Graham Library for Rev. Graham's funeral

"When he dies and goes to heaven, he [Billy Graham] said, 'Franklin, take me home,'" Billy's son, Franklin Graham, said during a 2013 interview.

Billy Graham will return "home," where he will be laid to rest Friday.

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