Funeral plans announced for evangelist Billy Graham
CHARLOTTE, NC (Tim Funk and Joe Marusak/Charlotte Observer) - Funeral and related plans for the Rev. Billy Graham, which have been in the works for years, were detailed Wednesday night following Graham's death that morning.
There will be a private prayer service for the immediate family at 10:45 a.m. this Saturday at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, in Asheville, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announced.
A motorcade procession will leave the center at 11:25 a.m. Saturday and arrive in front of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte by about 3 p.m. for a private family viewing. More details about the route of the procession will be released at 1 p.m. Thursday. No funeral-related activities are scheduled for Sunday.
Graham will lie in public repose next Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 26 and 27, at his family homestead at the Billy Graham Library.
The public will be shuttled from two off-site locations to pay their respects before Graham's closed casket from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. both days.
On those days, shuttle buses will take people from parking lots at the Operation Christmas Child warehouse, 7100 Forest Point Blvd. in south Charlotte, and from the Charlotte Valet Business Lot 2 at 5601 Wilkinson Blvd. at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Graham's funeral service starts at noon on Friday, March 2, and will be private, open only to 2,300 invited guests. Burial will follow. President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and former presidents have been invited.
The funeral will take place under a tent in the main parking lot of the library, "as a reminder of how his public ministry was launched," family spokesman Mark DeMoss said. Graham's break-through crusade was held in 1949 under a large tent in Los Angeles.
The service will include remarks from his children, including evangelist Franklin Graham.
Charlotte-born Billy Graham died at 7:46 a.m. Wednesday at his Montreat home. He was 99.
He will be buried on the library grounds beside his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007. Like her, he will be laid to rest in a plywood coffin made by inmates at the Angola Prison in Louisiana.
DeMoss told reporters that Graham died in his sleep. No one was with him except a nurse.
Graham's long-time personal physician, Dr. Lucian Rice of Asheville, was called to Graham's home. "He just wore out," Rice said, according to DeMoss.
Meanwhile, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all U.S. and N.C. flags to be lowered to half-staff until Friday night in honor of native son Graham.
Trump ordered that on the day Graham is buried, U.S. flags be flown at half-staff until sunset at the White House, all public buildings and grounds, military posts, naval stations and ships, and U.S. embassies and consular offices.
"Billy Graham was a strong, humble, positive and passionate North Carolina man of faith who made a difference in the lives of so many," said Cooper. "Rest with God, Reverend Graham."
Now that Graham has died, a statue or likeness of him will be commissioned and eventually installed inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.
Each of the 50 states is permitted to contribute two statues of favorite sons or daughters.
The N.C. legislature voted in 2015 to replace the statue of Charles Aycock, a former N.C. governor (1901-05), with one of Graham. Aycock's likeness has been in the Capitol since 1932.
The Tar Heel State is also represented in the Capitol by a statue of another long-ago politician, Zebulon Vance, who served as N.C. governor during and after the Civil War. He was a U.S. senator, and his caped statue was contributed in 1916.
Graham, who pastored U.S. presidents and spread the Gospel at crusades around the world, will not be the first religious figure to get a statue in the Capitol.
In fact, 12 states are represented by at least one person who made his or her mark in the world of faith. Hawaii donated a statue of Father Damien, the Catholic priest who served the lepers on the island of Molokai. And a statue of Mormon leader Brigham Young is one of two representing Utah.
In Mecklenburg County, Jim Puckett, vice chairman of the county commission, sent out an email after news of Graham's death proposing the the Stephens Road Nature Preserve be renamed the Dr. Billy Graham Nature Preserve.
Graham was raised on a dairy farm near what is now Park Road Shopping Center in Charlotte.
In his email, Puckett pointed out that the preserve is in an area of Mecklenburg County that "was home to farmers and dairymen like the Grahams. It is quiet and doesn't have recreation centers or active facilities but is preserved completely as God designed it and through the wisdom of our county leadership will remain so."
Charlotte is home to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which son Franklin now heads. The BGEA moved its headquarters from Minneapolis to Charlotte in 2004. And on June 5, 2007, the $27 million Billy Graham Library opened, drawing three former U.S. presidents, celebrities and thousands of tourists to a barn-shaped building. Inside, it's filled with everything from Graham's 1983 Presidential Medal of Freedom to the engagement ring he gave Ruth.
The road to the library: Billy Graham Parkway, a 4.8-mile boulevard in Charlotte that was dedicated in 1983.