Billy Graham Will Lie In Honor In The US Capitol Rotunda

Feb 22, 2018

Rev. Billy Graham listens intently prior to his address at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday Oct. 18, 1995. It was the first night of five nights of preaching for Graham in Sacramento.
Credit Bob Galbraith / AP

Updated 3:13 p.m. Feb. 22, 2018

A family spokesman says the Rev. Billy Graham carefully planned and signed off on every detail of his funeral next week.

The funeral March 2 will cap nine days of mourning for postwar America's most famous evangelist, who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina's mountains at age 99.

Graham family spokesman Mark DeMoss said Thursday that the music and speakers will all have connections to Graham's life and ministry. He says he will release details later.

DeMoss says the invitation-only funeral is being held in a tent at Graham's Charlotte library in tribute to the 1949 Los Angeles tent revivals that propelled him to international fame.

Graham will be buried in a prison-made plywood coffin next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday also said Graham's body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for two days next week.

Ryan says he's inviting members of Congress and the public to pay their respects to the man called "American's Pastor" on Feb. 28 and March 1.

It's a rare honor for a private citizen to lie in honor at the Capitol. According to the U.S. House, civil rights hero Rosa Parks was the last to do so in 2005.

Graham died Wednesday in his sleep at his North Carolina home. He was 99.

Graham will lie in repose at his library in Charlotte on Monday and Tuesday. His funeral is March 2 on the grounds of his library.

The North Carolina-born farm boy reached hundreds of millions of listeners around with the world with his rallies — or what he called "crusades" — and his pioneering use of television.

More than anyone else, Graham built evangelicalism into a force that rivaled liberal Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the U.S., and he became a confidant of presidents and other leaders.

About 2,000 people are expected at the private, invitation-only funeral, and invitations are being sent to President Donald Trump and the five living ex-presidents, DeMoss said.

Around Montreat, where Graham lived, he was a humble presence known to slip quietly into a local church for Sunday services.

Shelby Crump of Starr, South Carolina, was visiting the town when she heard the news of the evangelist's death.

"A lot of people were saved through his preaching," she said. "I'm saddened. Not many like him left."