CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The casket of Reverend Billy Graham departed the U.S. Capitol and returned to Charlotte ahead of Friday's services.
Graham's casket arrived at the Billy Graham Library around 1:40 p.m. Thursday.
Graham lied in honor Wednesday and part of Thursday in Washington, where he counseled presidents and others over more than 60 years.
A departure ceremony was held Thursday morning as Graham's casket was removed from the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Graham's son, Franklin Graham, tweeted that the time in Washingon was very special for the family.
"My deep appreciation to the delegation from North Carolina who, this morning, presented me with the flag that flew over the Capitol while my father was there to lie in honor," Franklin Graham tweeted. "I am deeply touched and grateful."
Some 30 family members accompanied Graham's casket Wednesday to Washington, where he befriended presidents of both parties and counseled others over seven decades.
Graham's casket was carried into the U.S. Capitol Rotunda around 11 a.m. Wednesday and removed around 10 a.m. Thursday.
The family of Rev. Billy Graham watches as the casket of Rev. Billy Graham is carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
President Donald Trump and members of Congress honored Graham Wednesday during a ceremony on the arrival of Graham's casket at the U.S. Capitol.
"Billy Graham carried his message around the world, but his heart, like Franklin will tell you, was always in America," Trump said. The president said that Graham shared his message of faith with everyone who he met.
"We can only imagine the lives touched by Billy Graham," Trump continued, describing him as "an ambassador for Christ, who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God's grace."
"Everywhere he went he gave the same beautiful message. " "God loves you - that was his message. God loves you," Trump said.
President Trump said his father was an admirer of Graham's and that the "legendary" American figure deserved to be recognized in the place "where the memory of the American people is enshrined."
The Rotunda entrances were draped with black fabric, and Graham's casket rested on a black-draped catafalque beneath the soaring ceiling and its painting, the "Apotheosis of Washington."
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association tweeted that Graham "spent so much time in Washington, counseling presidents and praying for the country."
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.
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.
The funeral will be held in a huge white tent that has been set up in the parking lot just in front of the Billy Graham Library and home place.
Approximately 2,300 invited guests are expected to attend. 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.
"When he dies and goes to heaven, he [Billy Graham] said, 'Franklin, take me home,'" Franklin Graham said during a 2013 interview.
Billy Graham will return "home," where he will be laid to rest Friday.