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Billy Graham service to gather thousands under a big white tent

Details for the memorial service for Billy Graham allow him to finish the same way he started – under a large white tent in front of thousands of people.

Family spokesman Mark DeMoss announced Wednesday evening that Graham’s private funeral service will be held Friday, March 2, at noon in a canvas tent set up near The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Graham’s coffin will be moved from the funeral home in Asheville to Charlotte on Saturday, Feb. 24. A three-hour procession is planned for Saturday to take his body on that journey. There is already talk of the journey and service being broadcast nationally because of the central role Graham has played in America’s faith and culture.

Graham’s body will lie in repose at the Graham Family Homeplace from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. The public will be allowed to pay their respects to the great preacher during that time.

The funeral service is private and will include family members, friends, and community leaders who were touched by Graham’s ministry. Approximately 2,300 people will be invited to attend the 90-minute service.

Graham personally approved the planning and details of his funeral arrangements years before his death and made sure the focus will not be on him, but on the gospel. His son, Franklin Graham will give the funeral message, while his brother and three sisters will speak briefly to honor their father.

Graham’s preaching ministry first gained national prominence in 1949 when he held a crusade in downtown Los Angeles under a large white tent, also known as a “canvas cathedral.”

“His family and team members thought it would be fitting to also conduct his funeral service under a tent as a reminder of how his public ministry was launched,” DeMoss said.

Graham’s casket was hand-made by Angola Prison inmates in 2006, at his request.

Graham will be buried next to his wife Ruth, who died in 2007, at the foot of the cross walkway at the Billy Graham Library.