Billy Graham to be laid to rest after ‘last crusade’

In keeping with Billy Graham's pioneering use of new media, his funeral will be streamed live on the BGEA website, with coverage beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern on Friday (March 2).

Billy Graham, in silhouette, during the opening ceremony to the Alabama Crusade at Birmingham's Legion Field in 1972. RNS file photo

(RNS) — Some call it Billy Graham’s last crusade.

The famed evangelist — who reached an estimated 215 million people during a lifetime of preaching at modern tent revivals he called “crusades” — will be laid to rest Friday (March 2) in Charlotte, N.C.

Graham died last week at age 99.

About 2,300 people are expected to attend the private funeral service at noon Eastern time under a tent on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library much like the “canvas cathedral” of his first Los Angeles crusade in 1949, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. But, in keeping with Graham’s pioneering use of new media, the service also will be streamed live on the BGEA website, with coverage beginning at 10 a.m.

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Graham’s children are expected to speak during the service, and Franklin Graham, his oldest son and successor as head of the BGEA, will deliver the funeral message. The 90-minute service in the city where Graham was born also will include music from Linda McCrary-Fisher, Michael W. Smith and the Gaither Vocal Band, who all had performed at Graham’s crusades.

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President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence reportedly plan to attend.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton paid their respects earlier this week at the library, and House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were among those who spoke Wednesday at a service at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, where Graham was the first religious leader to lie in honor.

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Afterward, Graham will be buried on the grounds of the library next to his wife, Ruth Bell Graham, who died in 2007. His longtime pastor, Donald Wilton of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., and executive assistant, David Bruce, are expected to speak at the burial.

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