Rosalynn Carter’s service to feature Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood

President Joe Biden and other national figures from both sides of the aisle are expected to attend former first lady’s tribute event

Country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will sing John Lennon’s ballad “Imagine” at former first lady Rosalynn Carter’s private tribute service this afternoon at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

Pianist David Osborne will perform “Wind Beneath My Wings” and members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus will sing “America the Beautiful.”

Those details are included in a 12-page program the Carter Center released this morning ahead of the invitation-only event. The “Celebration of Life” service is set to begin at 1 p.m. at the church, located on Emory University’s campus.

A longtime champion for the most vulnerable, Carter died this month with her family at her side at her home in Southwest Georgia. She was 96 and had been battling dementia.

Former President Jimmy Carter, 99, who entered home hospice care in February after a series of brief hospital stays, is expected to attend the service today. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient, he is the longest living former president in U.S. history.

Eleven of the Carters’ grandchildren will serve as honorary pallbearers. Son James Earl “Chip” Carter III will welcome mourners. Daughter Amy Carter will present a reading. A grandson and three of Rosalynn Carter’s great-grandchildren will read from scripture, including Galatians 5:13-14: “Serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Longtime aide and friend Kathryn Cade, journalist Judy Woodruff and grandson Jason Carter will deliver tributes. The Rev. Mark Westmoreland, Glenn Memorial’s senior pastor, will give the call to worship and invocation. The Rev. Tony Lowden, the Carters’ personal pastor, will deliver opening remarks.

Meanwhile, the pews are expected to be full of national political figures from both sides of the aisle. Among them: President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first ladies Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.

The program for Carter’s service features photos of her visiting refugees in Cambodia and testifying before Congress about mental health in 1979 and then receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom with her husband two decades later. It also includes quotes from her about caregiving and the importance of diagnosing and treating mental illnesses.

“Do what you can to show you care about others,” Carter said, “and you will make our world a better place.”

The church was already near capacity, hours before the service was set to start. Escaping from the cold, mourners packed the house of worship’s bottom level, save for the front section reserved for the Carters’ relatives and other dignitaries. Seated in the fifth row, former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and his wife, Carolyn, shook hands with people passing by.

Rosalynn Carter carefully planned the guest list, music and speakers, said Carter Center CEO Paige Alexander, who called Tuesday’s event a “celebration of everything she has done.” Alexander added that thousands of people paid their respects at the Carter Library on Monday, arriving on foot, on bikes and in shuttles. In an apartment at the Carter Center, Alexander said, the former president rested for today’s service. Relatives streamed in and out of the apartment and gathered with him for a family dinner.

Meanwhile, several dozen Carter Center employees lined up, awaiting the departure of a hearse that would carry Rosalynn Carter to the church. Police on motorcycles prepared to escort her.

Shannon Boone, 38, who lives a short distance from the center, took her dog, Forrest, for a walk nearby. She was among many who paid respects at the center Monday evening.

“It was very beautiful,” she said, adding that her parents donated money toward the construction of the Carter Center and have supported its work. “I hope it continues.”

Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains is set to hold a private service for the former first lady on Wednesday. Afterward, she will be buried at the home she shared with the former president nearby.

AJC staff writers Matt Kempner and Ernie Suggs contributed to this report.