Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Mourners are gathering to pay their respects to the Rev. Billy Graham at a funeral that marks the culmination of more than a week of tributes to “America’s Pastor.”

The service, scheduled to start at noon Friday, is to include performances by musicians who shared the stage with Graham at his crusades. The Rev. Franklin Graham will deliver the main funeral address for his father after personal messages from Billy Graham’s three daughters and younger son. President Donald Trump is expected to attend, but isn’t scheduled to speak.

The funeral planning began a decade ago with Billy Graham himself, and grew into his family’s desire to capture the feeling of the crusades that made the world’s best-known Protestant preacher of his era.

“His fingerprints are on this service for sure,” family spokesman Mark DeMoss said in a phone interview. “The Graham family has long considered that his funeral eventually would really be his last crusade.”

Graham, who died last week at age 99, brought a message of salvation to millions during visits and live broadcasts to scores of countries. While the invitation-only crowd Friday on the grounds of his Charlotte library is limited to 2,000 or so, internet livestreams are allowing many more to watch.

The service features songs from gospel musicians who performed at Graham’s events: Linda McCrary-Fisher, Michael W. Smith and the Gaither Vocal Band. They are all friends who sang for Graham at his home in recent years, DeMoss said.

Afterward, Billy Graham will be buried next to his wife in a memorial prayer garden at the library, with his grandchildren serving as pallbearers. His casket was made of pine by inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The grave marker reads: “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The funeral serves as the culmination of more than a week of tributes that included crowds lining the road for a procession from his home in the mountains to Charlotte, where Graham grew up. Approximately 13,000 people — including former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — filed past his casket during a public viewing in Charlotte this week. 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. (AP)

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<p>The casket containing the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham is received by his family and others at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., March 1, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

The casket containing the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham is received by his family and others at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., March 1, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)

<p>The casket containing the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham is received by his family and others at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., March 1, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

The casket containing the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham is received by his family and others at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., March 1, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)

<p>The casket of Reverend Billy Graham lies in honor at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP) </p>
APTOPIX Billy Graham

The casket of Reverend Billy Graham lies in honor at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

<p>The family of Rev. Billy Graham watches as the casket containing the late Rev. Billy Graham arrives at the U.S. Capitol prior to a ceremony and lying in honor inside the Rotunda in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Susan Walsh/Pool/Reuters) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

The family of Rev. Billy Graham watches as the casket containing the late Rev. Billy Graham arrives at the U.S. Capitol prior to a ceremony and lying in honor inside the Rotunda in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: Susan Walsh/Pool/Reuters)

<p>Former President Bill Clinton, left, greets Franklin Graham as he arrives to pay respects to Rev. Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Former President Bill Clinton, left, greets Franklin Graham as he arrives to pay respects to Rev. Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)

<p>Former President George W. Bush, left, speaks to the media as wife Laura Bush, left, and Franklin Graham, back right, and his wife Jane Graham, back left, listen after paying their respects to Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Former President George W. Bush, left, speaks to the media as wife Laura Bush, left, and Franklin Graham, back right, and his wife Jane Graham, back left, listen after paying their respects to Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)

<p>A woman reads a brochure under a large photo of Billy Graham as she pays respects to Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

A woman reads a brochure under a large photo of Billy Graham as she pays respects to Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)

<p>A couple walks past the casket after paying respects to Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

A couple walks past the casket after paying respects to Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)

<p>People enter under a large cross at the Billy Graham Library as the come to pay respects to Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

People enter under a large cross at the Billy Graham Library as the come to pay respects to Billy Graham during a public viewing at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)

<p>Residents pay their respects as a motorcade carrying the Rev. Billy Graham’s body to Charlotte’s Graham Library rolls through a downtown shopping district on Feb. 24, 2018 in Black Mountain, N.C. (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Residents pay their respects as a motorcade carrying the Rev. Billy Graham’s body to Charlotte’s Graham Library rolls through a downtown shopping district on Feb. 24, 2018 in Black Mountain, N.C. (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

<p>Mementos are left by well-wishers at the entrance to the Billy Graham Library after the death of Christian evangelist Billy Graham in Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Mementos are left by well-wishers at the entrance to the Billy Graham Library after the death of Christian evangelist Billy Graham in Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

<p>Residents pay their respects as a motorcade carrying the Rev. Billy Graham’s body to Charlotte’s Graham Library rolls through a downtown shopping district on February 24, 2018 in Black Mountain, N.C. (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Residents pay their respects as a motorcade carrying the Rev. Billy Graham’s body to Charlotte’s Graham Library rolls through a downtown shopping district on February 24, 2018 in Black Mountain, N.C. (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

<p>Mourners view the motorcade carrying Rev. Billy Graham through a window to in Black Mountain, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Lyons traveled from Muldoon, Texas. (Photo: John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Mourners view the motorcade carrying Rev. Billy Graham through a window to in Black Mountain, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Lyons traveled from Muldoon, Texas. (Photo: John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

<p>People line the street to pay respects as the hearse carrying the body of Rev. Billy Graham travels through Black Mountain, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. The procession is part of more than a week of mourning that culminates with his burial next week at his library in Charlotte. (Photo: Kathy Kmonicek, Pool/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

People line the street to pay respects as the hearse carrying the body of Rev. Billy Graham travels through Black Mountain, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. The procession is part of more than a week of mourning that culminates with his burial next week at his library in Charlotte. (Photo: Kathy Kmonicek, Pool/AP)

<p>Residents gather along the side of the road as they wait to pay their respects prior to the arrival of a motorcade carrying the Rev. Billy Graham’s body to Charlotte’s Graham Library expected to roll through a downtown shopping district on Feb. 24, 2018 in Black Mountain, N.C. (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Residents gather along the side of the road as they wait to pay their respects prior to the arrival of a motorcade carrying the Rev. Billy Graham’s body to Charlotte’s Graham Library expected to roll through a downtown shopping district on Feb. 24, 2018 in Black Mountain, N.C. (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

<p>Residents pay their respects as a motorcade carrying the Rev. Billy Graham’s body to Charlotte’s Graham Library rolls through a downtown shopping district on Feb. 24, 2018 in Black Mountain, N.C. (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Residents pay their respects as a motorcade carrying the Rev. Billy Graham’s body to Charlotte’s Graham Library rolls through a downtown shopping district on Feb. 24, 2018 in Black Mountain, N.C. (Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

<p>People line the street to pay respects as the hearse carrying the body of Rev. Billy Graham travels through Black Mountain, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: Kathy Kmonicek, Pool/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

People line the street to pay respects as the hearse carrying the body of Rev. Billy Graham travels through Black Mountain, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: Kathy Kmonicek, Pool/AP)

<p>Mourners line Hwy 70 through Black Mountain, N.C. as the motorcade carrying Rev. Billy Graham passes by, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Mourners line Hwy 70 through Black Mountain, N.C. as the motorcade carrying Rev. Billy Graham passes by, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (Photo: John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

<p>Flowers and notes are left outside Chatlos Chapel in tribute to Rev. Billy Graham at the Billy Graham Training Center, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Asheville, N.C. (Photo: Kathy Kmonicek/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Flowers and notes are left outside Chatlos Chapel in tribute to Rev. Billy Graham at the Billy Graham Training Center, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 in Asheville, N.C. (Photo: Kathy Kmonicek/AP)

<p>A visitor photographs a picture of evangelist Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at his Montreat home aged 99, inside Chatlos Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C., Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

A visitor photographs a picture of evangelist Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at his Montreat home aged 99, inside Chatlos Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C., Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

<p>Pallbearers carry the body of Rev. Billy Graham into a hearse before leaving the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Asheville, N.C. Graham’s body will be brought to his hometown of Charlotte on Saturday as part of a procession expected to draw crowds of well-wishers. (Photo: Kathy Kmonicek, Pool/AP) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Pallbearers carry the body of Rev. Billy Graham into a hearse before leaving the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Asheville, N.C. Graham’s body will be brought to his hometown of Charlotte on Saturday as part of a procession expected to draw crowds of well-wishers. (Photo: Kathy Kmonicek, Pool/AP)

<p>Gigi Graham (L), daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, is comforted by Michelle Bachelor, an employee at the Billy Graham Training Center, inside Chatlos Memorial Chapel, where a memorial for her father, who died Wednesday at his Montreat home aged 99, took place in Asheville, N.C., Feb. 22, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Gigi Graham (L), daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, is comforted by Michelle Bachelor, an employee at the Billy Graham Training Center, inside Chatlos Memorial Chapel, where a memorial for her father, who died Wednesday at his Montreat home aged 99, took place in Asheville, N.C., Feb. 22, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

<p>The hearse carrying the body of evangelist Billy Graham arrives at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, where some Graham family members have gathered in Asheville, N.C., Feb. 22, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

The hearse carrying the body of evangelist Billy Graham arrives at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, where some Graham family members have gathered in Asheville, N.C., Feb. 22, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

<p>Joy Valentine places flowers at the base of a bronze statue of evangelist Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at his Montreat home aged 99, on the grounds of a Christian conference center in nearby Ridgecrest, N.C., Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters) </p>
Saying goodbye to Billy Graham

Joy Valentine places flowers at the base of a bronze statue of evangelist Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at his Montreat home aged 99, on the grounds of a Christian conference center in nearby Ridgecrest, N.C., Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

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