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President Trump among over 2,000 mourners at the funeral of US preacher Billy Graham

By Staff Reporter

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania were among the thousands of mourners who turned out for the funeral of iconic preacher Billy Graham.

The Reverend Billy Graham was laid to rest following a private funeral service at his library in Charlotte, North Carolina yesterday.

His children remembered him as a man devoted to spreading the Gospel, living his life at home as he preached it in stadiums, with a personable humility and an unwavering focus on the Bible.

His adult children - all speakers or preachers in their own right - recalled being taught by their parents how to read Scripture aloud and deliver sermons, but also taking quiet walks with their father and feeling his embrace even when they made mistakes.

Franklin Graham, who delivered the main funeral message, said all of those qualities were part of the whole.

"The Billy Graham that the world saw on television, the Billy Graham that the world saw in the big stadiums, was the same Billy Graham that we saw at home. There weren't two Billy Grahams," he said.

"He loved his family. He stood by us. He comforted us."

His message was followed shorter remarks by his siblings in a service that lasted just over an hour before an invitation-only crowd of an estimated 2,000.

The funeral also featured singers who had shared his stage in years past: Linda McCrary-Fisher, Michael W. Smith and the Gaither Vocal Band. Other notable guests included television host Kathie Lee Gifford, musician Ricky Skaggs, evangelist Rick Warren and politician Rudy Giuliani.

The funeral followed more than a week of mourning that included crowds lining the road for a procession from Graham's 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.

Rev Graham had met and prayed with every US President from Harry Truman to Barrack Obama. He died last week at his home in North Carolina at the age of 99 years. Graham met President Trump at a 95th birthday party for the spiritual leader organized by his son Franklin Graham, who has led the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in recent years as his father aged.

Speaking at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday, Trump recalled seeing Graham preach with his father at Yankee Stadium in 1957, calling him "an ambassador for Christ who reminded the world of the power of prayer and the gift of God's grace."

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