Preacher to powerful farewelled at age 99
THE faithful from small towns have gathered with US President Donald Trump and other powerful politicians in North Carolina for the funeral of evangelist Billy Graham, who preached to millions around the world in a 70-year career.
The service for Graham, who died on February 21 at age 99, comes after he lay in honour at the US Capitol in recognition of a clergyman who counselled presidents and became the first noted evangelist to take his message to the Soviet bloc at a time when its communist regimes were hostile to organised religion.
The North Carolina native was buried in a pine coffin made by a Louisiana prison inmate, and laid to rest next to his late wife, Ruth, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.
The 90-minute funeral service was held under a canvas tent emblematic of Graham’s 1949 Los Angeles revival that marked his breakthrough as an evangelist.
Graham’s son, the Reverend Franklin Graham, delivered the eulogy, saying that “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”.
He also said his father believed in heaven and had now gone on the journey he had been “looking forward to all of his life”.
Mr Trump, who earlier met with Graham’s family, took his place among about 2300 invited guests, along with first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen.
Following the funeral service, Graham’s family placed flowers on his casket at a private interment ceremony.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen. Pictures: AFP
Graham during a visit to Sydney in 1979.
Graham’s coffin, made by a prison inmate.