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Billy Graham's body to lie in honor at U.S. Capitol next week
Montreat residents remember encounters and impressions of famed evangelist Billy Graham who died at his Montreat home on Wednesday at the age of 99. Angeli Wrightfirstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON — The body of the Rev. Billy Graham will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda next week, officials announced Thursday.
He will be just the fourth person to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda, following Rosa Parks in 2005 and Officer Jacob Chestnut Jr. and Detective John Gibson, who worked for the U.S. Capitol Police in 1998 and were killed by an armed assailant.
Members of the public can pay their respects to the late evangelist at the Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will take part in a bicameral service when Graham's casket arrives.
More details are expected to be released at a later date.
Graham, 99, died in his sleep Wednesday at his Montreat home. The world's most famous evangelist in his old age had suffered from several maladies, including vision and hearing loss, as well as Parkinson's-like symptoms diagnosed nearly 20 years ago.
"In addition to spreading the gospel to millions around the world, Rev. Graham served as a spiritual adviser to countless American presidents, and an inspiration to millions,” U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry said in a statement. "In light of this work and his years of service to the United States, it is wholly befitting for our nation to honor Rev. Graham by according the honors ... in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.."
Ryan said Graham was a "soaring figure" who was still able to connect with people.
"His reach was rooted in decency, humility, and love," Ryan's statement said. "He set a tone of ecumenical inclusion, advocated civil rights, and refused to accept the segregation of those attending his crusades. Rev. Graham’s service is a testament that, with faith in God, one person can do so much good for the world."
Graham also will lie in repose Monday and Tuesday at the Graham Family Homeplace at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. The public can pay its respects both days, from 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
His funeral service will take place at noon March 2 at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. His body was taken to Morris Funeral Home in Asheville on Wednesday and will be moved to Charlotte via motorcade on Saturday.
Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said the funeral will be held in a large tent, a tribute to Graham’s first Crusade in Los Angeles in 1949. As with Ruth Graham’s burial, Billy Graham will be buried in a simple pine casket made by inmates at the correctional facility in Angola, Louisiana.
The funeral will be private and by invitation only, with some 2,300 invitations going out, including to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the living former U.S. presidents, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, DeMoss said.
The BGEA said it doesn't plan on releasing any information on acceptances.
McHenry's office said the House of Representatives on Friday is expected to approve a resolution authorizing the use of the Rotunda for Graham's body to lie in honor.