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Mourners gather to say goodbye to Rev. Billy Graham at noon

Mourners gather to say goodbye to Rev. Billy Graham at noon

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.

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 almost every USA president since Harry Truman.

The noontime service, in many ways Graham's final crusade, will be streamed live.

Graham's son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, who serves as president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said in the main address that his father believed every word of the Bible even though he never understood all of it.

The eulogy was preceded by memories of "America's Pastor" that were shared by Graham's sister, Jean Ford, as well as his children - Virginia "Gigi" Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Ruth Graham, and Ned Graham.

Just after Franklin Graham whispered to Mr. Trump, the president delivered a tribute to Billy Graham and said that his own father, Fred Trump, had been a fan. The elder Graham died last week at age 99.

"Looking back, I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn't do that now", Billy Graham told Christianity Today in 2011.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were among some 2,000 people to attend the private ceremony at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

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He praised his father for the love he had for his late mother and noted that "the Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadium was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home".

Graham was a lifelong registered Democrat, and although Franklin Graham said his father had voted in the 2016 presidential election, he declined to say for whom.

Graham, who preached to millions in person and through mass media televangelism, was being laid to rest at his Charlotte home. Only the sound of rain broke the silence of the pallbearers, six of Graham's grandsons, who guided his simple wooden coffin out of the hearse and began the slow walk toward the Billy Graham Library where it will remain until Friday's funeral. The grave marker of "America's Pastor" - as he was originally called by former president George H.W. Bush - reads: "Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ".

Pollard said members of Graham's world ministry were also present.

Warren said Graham was a major influence on how he learned how to preach.

And on Wednesday, Graham became the first private citizen since civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 2005 to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington.

The pine casket lined with a mattress pad was made by prisoners at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.


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