The funeral for Rep. Elijah Cummings is being held in Baltimore with two former presidents set to speak about the man who started life the son of sharecroppers before rising to serve in the halls of Congress for 23 years.
Cummings, who chaired the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, died last week at the age of 68. According to the Baltimore Sun, Cummings had cancer.
On Thursday, Cumming’s body lay in state at the U.S. Capitol following a memorial service that saw lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praise the Maryland Democrat.
On Friday, Cummings will be laid to rest in Baltimore following a funeral that will feature tributes from former President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Here is what we know about the funeral and how to watch.
What time: A public viewing will take place at 8 a.m. ET and the funeral will take place at 10 a.m.
Where will it be held: The funeral will be held at the New Psalmist Baptist Church. Cummings had worshiped at the church for nearly 40 years.
Who is officiating the service: Bishop Walter Scott Thomas Sr., will deliver the eulogy.
Who is speaking: Those set to speak include: President Barack Obama; President Bill Clinton; Hillary Clinton; Nancy Pelosi; Kweisi Mfume, former NAACP leader; University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson; former Baltimore health commissioner Leana Wen; clergy member Dr. Alfred Vaughn; Deaconess Margaret Ann Howie; Jon Alexander; and congressional staff member Harry Spikes. In addition, Cumming's widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, and daughters Jennifer and Adia Cummings, along with Cumming's brother, James, are also expected to speak.
How to watch: The funeral will be streamed on C-SPAN beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Live updates will begin here at 9:30 a.m. ET.
The choir is singing and the service is coming to an end
1:40 p.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Bishop Thomas has concluded his remarks and the choir is singing. The benediction is being said. Cummings's body is about to be removed from the church.
Bishop Walter Thomas is speaking
1:11 p.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Bishop Walter Thomas of the New Psalmist Baptist Church says, "We come to honor one who has meant so much to all of us. Elijah was my friend for almost 40 years. He was here or every 7:15 service." Cummings's last act for Congress was to sign subpoena's, Thomas said. His last act or God takes place today, he said. "He wanted you to know why he came to church."
He recalls meeting Cummings at a political banquet and said he and Cummings talked all night because the “speaker was boring.”
“Don’t tell me serving God won’t lift you up,” Thomas said. “God raised him one step after another.”
Cummings never had a political machine behind him, ever,” Thomas said. “He just had people behind him.”
He brought power to church, Thomas says. “Every place of power, Elijah has called them in.”
“He wanted you to come with your brokenness,” Thomas said. He brought you to church to get regrounded. We have forgotten where we came from, Thomas says. "We were not taught to be divided."
“There’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There’s nothing weak about looking out for others. There’s nothing weak about being honorable.”— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) October 25, 2019
-Former President @BarackObama at the funeral of Rep. Elijah Cummings pic.twitter.com/IgXl4YJKQz
Barack Obama is speaking
12:50 p.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: "Elijah Cummings came from good soil. … Goodness took root." He says Cummings's mother once told him that she prayed for him every day. "And I believed it." He inherited grit and compassion from his parents, he said.
He relays a story Cummings told him about his father. The two would go to the airport to watch people leave on planes. His father would say, “I have not flied, I may not fly, but you will fly one day. We can’t afford it right not, but you will fly.”
Obama says Cummings’s grandmother was less patient, ‘Your daddy been waiting and waiting for a better day, don’t you wait.’ Elijah didn’t wait,” he said.
Cummings showed, he said, “The possibility that our destinies are not pre-ordained but by our works. We can live a purposeful life.”
Cummings was a kind man, Obama says. “I want my daughters to know I love them, but that being a strong man means being kind … There’s nothing weak about looking out for others. You’re not a sucker to have integrity and treat others with respect.”
He says the term honorable “is conferred to people in public, but Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to Congress.”
Obama said, “There was something about his voice that made you feel better.” We have to continue his work, Obama says.
Former President @BillClinton speaks at Rep. Elijah Cummings Funeral Service – LIVE on C-SPAN https://t.co/3Nt7BSmMFq pic.twitter.com/7broF4Qot0— CSPAN (@cspan) October 25, 2019
Bill Clinton is speaking
12:35 p.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Clinton remembers he was invited to that church on the Sunday before the election. He was criticized for a "get out the vote" event in the church. Talk about a lousy deal, Clinton says, I had to follow the bishop and Elijah Cummings."
He remembers Cummings reciting Psalm 40 and how the crowd reacted. He says he mirrored the prophet Isiah who said to God, ‘Here am I Lord, send me.’ “Elijah Cummings spent a whole life saying ‘send me.’ … He honored his oath to protect the Constitution of the United States.
He asked how Cummings made Republican friends – “I believe people could see he was the real deal. He tried to treat everybody the way he wanted to be treated. You can’t run a free society if you have to hate everybody you disagree with.”
We should hear him as a still small voice, he says.
His widow speaks
12:25 p.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Maya Cummings speaks to Obama, saying he was "so proud of you" and that he supported him, even if he "didn't have the challenges (as president) you see going on now."
To Bill Clinton, she says thank you because “when he invited you, you showed up.” To Hillary Clinton, she said Cummings fought for you against “spurious claims. … He went on to fight real corruption,” she said. She said Cummings was hurt by the attacks on Baltimore made by Trump, though she did not mention Trump’s name. She said he did not want a service in the Capitol, but she wanted him to have it because “They were trying to tear him down.”
“It was my distinct honor and privilege to be his spouse.”
Harry Spikes remembers Cummings
12:15 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Harry Spikes who worked for Cummings for 15 years described his remembrance as "The Final Lesson." He recalls his years with Cummings and five lessons he learned from him. He starts by quoting actor Bruce Lee: "The key to immortality is living a life worth living. … He thought compassion and kindness brought us closer to God." He recalls Cummings's spirit, "If one leg doesn't work, use a walker, at least you will be standing."
Dr. Leana Wen remembers Cummings
12:11 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Leana Wen, whom Cummings had mentored, said Cummings made people feel they were heard and that they mattered. She remembers his kindness when she suffered a miscarriage. She tells the story of how she named her first child, a son, Elijah. "We must let our conscious guide our conduct," she says.
Jon Alexander, a former aide, remembers Cummings
12:01 p.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Jon Alexander, who worked for Cummings, tells President Barack Obama that, like him, Cummings "used to call me an honorary brother. … He was a brilliant man who was born to lead, and he served for all the right reasons." He remembers Cummings telling him once, "I won't let you fall." Honor his memory, Alexander says, by helping someone.
Cummings’s brother is speaking
11:55 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: James Cummings, Cummings's brother, says he calls his brother Bobby, as the family does. He says it was tough to follow him because of his outstanding drive. "I'm going to miss him dearly. ... He wanted to be in a position to help people who couldn't help themselves."
Adia Cummings talks about her father
11:50 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: She apologizes for reading off of her phone. "I am a millennial, after all." She recognizes his staff and tells them she is sorry they will miss someone who was more than a boss. "He was never hesitant to give his opinion, whether asked for or not. … I could come to him with anything, ask him for anything, even Cardi B tickets." She quotes an Eminem song about seizing your moment.
Cummings’s daughter reads a letter to him
11:42 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Jennifer Cummings remembers her father. "Thank you, Daddy." She reads a letter to her father. She tells him his life has been celebrated since he died. "You touched so many lives. … You truly say people and they say you. … The most important title you held is dad." She thanks him for telling her she is "beautiful and brilliant."
Deaconess Margaret Ann Howie is speaking
11:29 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Margaret Howie from the New Psalmist Baptist Church remembers Cummings in the church. "He was a 7:15 member," she says of Cummings. "He carried our prayers with him," she says.
Mr. Larry Gibson is speaking
11:22 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Larry Gibson who was the Cummings's mentor recalls how the two met. He remembers how Cummings was ahead of his times and pushed for change and tolerance. "We talked about everything and it seemed like everybody. The public Elijah you saw was the authentic Elijah," Gibson said. He tells Cumming's wife that he called her "beautiful genesis."
Dr. Alfred Vaughn is speaking
11:16 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Vaughn says, 'We have said to him, bon voyage, we will see you in the morning."
The perfect mission
11:09 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: "God calls all of us to a perfect mission." He was the perfect symbol for African Americans, Mfume says. "I shall not shout my faith," he remembers Cummings saying. We should recommit ourselves to the dream of Cummings, he says. He quotes "It is Well with My Soul."
Kweisi Mfume is speaking now
11 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Kweisi Mfume addresses Cumming's wife, Maya. "We will miss Elijah, but you will miss him most." He says Cummings told him to "write it down" if he were to be asked to give a reading at his funeral. He shares a conversion the two had. "Dude, I hear they are rather filled up downstairs where you are going. You may have to stand in line."
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, is speaking
10:52 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: A loud cheer goes up for Nancy Pelosi. "Good morning, Baltimore!" She says she brings the condolences of the House of Representatives. "I'm very proud that yesterday's service was bipartisan." She recalls Cummings's statement, "We are better than this," in urging those in attendance to be their best selves. Pelosi grew up in Baltimore.
“Like the Old Testament prophet”
10:43 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: From Clinton: "It's no coincidence Elijah Cummings shares a name with an Old Testament prophet." … "Like the prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from heaven. … Like the prophet of old, he stood against corrupt leadership."
Clinton takes a swipe at leaders who do not keep the promises they make when campaigning.
“His integrity and character made him a guiding light in the Congress. He had little tolerance for those who put party ahead of country.”
Hillary Clinton is speaking
10:37 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Hillary Clinton is speaking now.
Joe Biden is in the congregation
10:33 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Former Vice President Joe Biden is in attendance. He is sitting by Nancy Pelosi.
BeBe Winans is singing
10:30 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Gospel singer BeBe Winans is performing "Stand."
Elizabeth Warren is giving a reading
10:23 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Elizabeth Warren is reading the Twenty-third Psalm. She receives applause when she is finished.
An opening prayer
10:22 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Rev. Matthew Whatley gives an opening prayer. He prays for the speakers, the pastors and those in the church.
The Church's One Foundation
10:18 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Cummings requested the hymn "The Church's One Foundation" be the first hymn sung at his funeral, according to Bishop Walter Scott Thomas Sr. who is officiating at the service.
Draping of the coffin
10:13 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: The flag is being placed on Cummings's coffin by the honor guard.
The service has started
10:11 a.m ET Oct 25, 2019: The service has started with a song.
The livestream will start in moments
10:03 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: The livestream of Cummings funeral is beginning now on C-SPAN.
Church reps. have announced that they are at capacity. 4,000+ mourners are inside the church paying their respects to the late @RepCummings. pic.twitter.com/9rphigtCSe— Thalia Juarez (@_ThaliaJuarez) October 25, 2019
Maya Cummings asked for Obama to speak
9:55 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Cummings's widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, asked former President Barack Obama to speak Friday. Obama said of Cummings on his passing last week, "he stood tallest and most resolute when our country needed him most."
Working to the end
9:45 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: Cummings' wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said her husband worked up to the end of his life. She said that he believed that "our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation's diversity was our promise, not our problem."
The church is filling
9:20 a.m. ET Oct. 25, 2019: People are gathering for the start of the funeral of Elijah Cummings. The service begins at 10 a.m.
Rep. Elijah Cummings Lies in State https://t.co/TOUy2qZfQd pic.twitter.com/IZXKZv6LEe— CSPAN (@cspan) October 24, 2019
About the Author
Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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