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Billy Graham funeral: Preacher’s ‘last crusade’ has thousands of mourners



CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mourners from around the world gathered Friday under a large white tent in what was described as the “last crusade” for Billy Graham, who was revered as “America’s pastor” for more than six decades and counseled nearly every U.S. president since Harry Truman.

Graham, who preached his brand of evangelical Christianity to millions at events he called crusades and became one of America’s first TV mega pastors, died last week at age 99 at his home in Montreat, a rural town west of Charlotte.

The private funeral service was streamed live and drew some 2,300 guests, including President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump. Graham was buried in a simple wooden casket constructed by inmates serving life terms at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

After the internment ceremony concluded, Graham’s family placed white roses on his casket.

As most of Graham’s contemporaries have died over the years, like the gospel singer George Beverly Shea, who sang at the early Graham crusades, the guest list included relatives of his children and grandchildren. The service was a who’s who of leading Christian figures from Rick Warren to In Touch Ministries founder Charles Stanley.

The gathering resembled a Graham crusade with a tent symbolic of the “canvas cathedral” that he used in 1949, when he conducted an eight-week event in Los Angeles that propelled him to national prominence. Graham’s elder son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, who is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, delivered the sermon.

“There weren’t two Billy Grahams,” Franklin said. “He left us an enduring legacy: His uncompromising testimony of God’s great love.”

Image: Billy Graham funeral service

The casket of Billy Graham is moved during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library on March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, North Carolina.