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‘America’s Pastor’ Billy Graham mourned at funeral

  • President Donald Trump speaks with Pastor Franklin Graham after a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton

  • CORRECTS SPELLING OF NAME TO ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ FROM ANN GRAHAM LOTS - Televangelist Jim Bakker speaks with Anne Graham Lotz after a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) AP

  • Mourners react during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, center right, arrive at the funeral of Reverend Billy Graham in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

  • President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence arrive at the funeral of Reverend Billy Graham in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

  • The casket of The Rev. Billy Graham is moved during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • President Donald Trump listens to a sermon during a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump, left, and Vice President Mike Pence, and wife Karen Pence arrive ahead of a funeral service at the Billy Graham Library for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C.(AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Pallbearers carry the casket of the Rev. Billy Graham past family members as it returns to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, March 1, 2018. His funeral will be Friday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton

  • Family members look on as the hearse carrying the body of the Rev. Billy Graham returns to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, March 1, 2018. His funeral will be Friday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) Chuck Burton

  • An usher reads a program ahead of a funeral service Friday at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., for the Rev. Billy Graham, who died last week at age 99. AP



Associated Press
Friday, March 02, 2018

The Rev. Billy Graham’s children remembered “America’s Pastor” on Friday as a man devoted to spreading the Gospel, living his life at home as he preached it in stadiums, with a personable humility and an unwavering focus on the Bible. As his oldest son told the funeral congregation, “There weren’t two Billy Grahams.”

His adult children – all speakers or preachers in their own right – recalled being taught by their parents how to read Scripture aloud and deliver sermons, but also taking quiet walks with their father and feeling his embrace even when they made mistakes.

Franklin Graham, who delivered the main funeral message, said all of those qualities were part of the whole.

“The Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadiums, was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home. There weren’t two Billy Grahams,” he said. “He loved his family. He stood by us. He comforted us.”

Franklin Graham’s funeral message, which included a Gospel call to repentance and salvation, followed shorter remarks by his siblings in a service that lasted just over an hour before an invitation-only crowd of approximately 2,000.

“I believe, from Heaven’s perspective, that my father’s death is as significant as his life. And his life was very significant. But I think when he died, that was something very strategic from Heaven’s point of view,” said his daughter Anne Graham Lotz, later adding: “I believe God is saying: ‘Wake up church! Wake up world!’”

The congregation included President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and their wives. Neither Pence nor Trump spoke during the service that was streamed live online, but they met privately with the family beforehand.

The funeral planning began a decade ago with Billy Graham himself. It also reflected his family’s desire to capture the feeling of the crusades that made him the world’s best-known Protestant preacher of his era. Graham, who died last week at age 99, brought a message of salvation to millions during visits and live broadcasts to scores of countries.

The funeral served as a Billy Graham crusade told through his children. Lotz read Scripture, inserting her name into the passages to make her relationship with God more personal and breaking it down intellectually, like her father. Youngest daughter Ruth told about how she sinned and didn’t listen to her father with a hasty marriage, but he was waiting for her with open arms when she realized her mistake.

And oldest son Franklin, now CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrapped up with his father’s central theme: that the only path to salvation is to accept Jesus Christ.

While Franklin Graham steered clear of politics during his message, the Trumps and Pences were the first guests he welcomed as he began.

And his invitation to be saved by Jesus contained this barb: “The world, with all of its political correctness, would want you to believe that there are many roads to God. It’s just not true.”

Like Graham’s famous crusades, the funeral featured singers who had shared his stage in years past: Linda McCrary-Fisher, Michael W. Smith and the Gaither Vocal Band.

The lineup of clergy and singers from as near as North Carolina and as far away as Asia, was racially diverse – moreso than the mostly white audience.

Other notable guests included television host Kathie Lee Gifford, musician Ricky Skaggs, evangelist Rick Warren and politician Rudy Giuliani. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper attended, as did his predecessor Pat McCrory.