Rev. Graham's body to 'lie in honor' at US Capitol before Charlotte funeral

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Flags across North Carolina remain at half-staff in honor of Rev. Billy Graham, who died Wednesday at the age of 99.

A private funeral for Rev. Graham will be held at noon on Friday, March 2 at the Billy Graham Library, a family spokesman said.

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Members of the public can sign a book set inside North Carolina's old Capitol building to remember Graham.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued a proclamation ordering a "Book of Condolences" be placed inside the Capitol rotunda, where it will be starting Friday through March 2.

Cooper then plans to present the book to Graham's family on behalf of North Carolina citizens.

Thursday's proclamation identifies Graham as "North Carolina's native son" who was "without peer as an evangelist during his lifetime" and who refused to preach to racially segregated audiences.

[LINK: Billy Graham memorial schedule]

On Thursday, Rev. Graham's earthly body was moved from the funeral home to the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville. Billy Graham and his wife Ruth established the center in 1987 so Christians could leave behind the daily demands of their life and go there to study God's word.

[LINK: Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove]

From Chopper 9, drivers could be seen pulling their cars over along the streets of Asheville to pay their respects. A private family gathering will be at The Cove.

On Saturday morning there will be a private family prayer service at The Cove. From there, the funeral motorcade will travel to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte on Saturday afternoon.

It will leave around 11:30 a.m. and arrive around 3 p.m. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department will be organizing his funeral procession with help from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

[RELATED: Rev. Billy Graham dies 'peacefully' in Montreat home, family spokesman says]

On Monday and Tuesday, the reverend's body will lie in repose at the Graham Family Homeplace on library property from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Parking will be off-site at 7100 Forest Point Boulevard at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center. Public shuttles will be available.

On Wednesday, Rev. Graham's body will be brought to the U.S. Capitol, where it will lie in honor in the Rotunda until Thursday. Members of the public can visit the Rotunda and pay their respects.

Upon arrival of Graham's casket, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will take part in a bicameral service.

This is a very unique and special honor, as Graham will be only the fourth person to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda. Two Capitol Police officers killed in the line of duty in 1998 also laid in honor, as did Rosa Parks in 2005.

[READ MORE: Rare honor reserved for Graham at the Capitol]

Rev. Graham's body will then return to Charlotte on Friday, March 2. At noon, there will be a private funeral service at the library, in a tent. The service will be by invitation only, and that approximately 2,300 people will be asked to attend.

Most of Graham's funeral program was developed 10 years ago and his friend Cliff Barrows helped select the music and message. The ceremony will last approximately 90 minutes.

The funeral will be held in a large tent, a tribute to Rev. Graham's early crusades, which were also held in tents.

Graham will be buried in the Prayer Garden, next to his wife Ruth, who passed away in 2007.

Graham's grave marker will read "Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Just like Ruth, who died at age 87 after a long illness, Graham will be buried in a simple plywood coffin made by prison inmates.

The Associated Press reported in 2007 that Graham's son Franklin asked for the coffins after seeing them made on a visit to the Angola prison and being struck by their simplicity.

The coffins were made of birch plywood and lined with a foam mattress pad covered with fabric. Brass handles are on the sides, while a cross adorns the top. They cost $215 each.

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Richard Liggett, who was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder, led a team of prisoners who built the coffins for the Graham family. He had found God in prison, said Burl Cain, warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

A friend to presidents and leaders across the world, Charlotte can expect thousands to visit the Queen City in the coming days.

Living presidents, as well as foreign dignitaries and other national leaders, are expected to attend the funeral.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the ongoing ministry of evangelism at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, online at BillyGraham.org or via mail, sent to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201. Notes of remembrance can be posted at BillyGraham.org.

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