Preacher to pow­er­ful farewelled at age 99

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - WORLD -

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.

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