ST. LOUIS (USA TODAY) — Thousands of mourners packed the mammoth Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on Monday for the funeral for Michael Brown, a black teen whose fatal shooting following a confrontation with a white police officer set off weeks of sometimes violent protests.
The service began with energy, including songs from a church choir, Scripture readings. The line from Scripture: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" drew loud applause.
VIDEO: Michael Brown's funeral highlights his faith
Michael Brown's funeral put a focus on the teen's faith as family and friends remembered their last moments with him.
Michael Brown Sr., listened intently as his 1-year-old daughter, Mi-Kelle Brown -- Michael's sister -- slept in his arms. Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, stared straight ahead and bobbed her head gently as the words were read.
Dr. Elijah Hankerson then said a prayer for Brown's family.
Earlier, mourners began lining up under a blistering sun more than three hours before the funeral, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT.
The service began with energy, including songs from a church choir, Scripture readings.
An hour before the service's scheduled start, lines snaked around the corner and down a full city block on either side of the red-brick church.
Fifteen minutes later, police informed visitors that the church had reached its 2,500-person capacity. They directed them to an adjacent auditorium that seats 1,000 people, where the service will be shown on giant screens. Soon that room also was overflowing with mourners. A 300-seat annex also filled quickly.
A few hundred visitors unable to get into the service milled around outside cordially, allowing family members to enter and chatting with one another. One woman passed out small green and purple ribbons that people pinned to their shirts. But anger simmered under the surface.
Brown's body will be laid to rest here Monday, but the controversy over his death is far from over. Prosecutors have not determined whether the police officer, 28-year-old Darren Wilson, will face charges in Brown's death.
Quincy Harts, 40, of St. Louis, was outside the church wearing a T-shirt with Brown's picture and the words: "No Justice, No Peace."
He said he'll respect the family's wishes of no protests - for now.
"Ain't nobody too happy about this," Harts said. "You're going to see more protests until (Wilson) goes to jail."
Still, the atmosphere outside the church was subdued. Johnnie Shegog, 57, of St. Louis, knew Brown since he was 4 years old and the family for two decades.
"I'm hoping this day lifts us up, turns things around," she said. "Not just for St. Louis, but the entire nation."
Angela Jones-Peaks, 43, of nearby Jennings, asked her supervisor for a few hours off Monday morning to attend the service. Having two sons of her own motivated her to attend, she said.
"It's scary every time they leave home," Jones-Peaks said. "I wanted to support this family, let them know we're here for them."
Several men guarded two double doors to a side entrance of the church, waiting for family members. They asked each person approaching that door for a purple wristband that family members had been told to wear.
Inside, members of Brown's family sat in a waiting area just outside the doors to the part of the church where the service will be held. Many nervously chatted and talked about the loss of someone so young.
On Sunday, the teen's parents saw their son for the first time since his death and tried to prepare for a burial that will test their strength.
About 100 family members and friends gathered Sunday for a private viewing of Brown's body at Austin A. Layne Mortuary. They gazed at Brown, who lay with his arms crossed in a gold and black casket. He wore a blue-and-white-checked shirt, a navy blue sweater vest and a neatly tied red-and-blue-striped bow tie. He showed no sign of the gunshots that ended his life Aug. 9.
Brown's parents each spent time alone with his body. Then other people came in.
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"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."
Michael Brown Sr. said seeing his son's body made the past two weeks real.
"It was a dream," Brown, 36, told USA TODAY. "It's a reality now. I can't really explain how I feel. I'm torn, hurt, upset and angry. I can't explain."
He said he wanted Monday, the day of his son's funeral, to be without demonstrations.
"I really don't want protesters tomorrow," the father said. "Our son needs to have a moment of silence for tomorrow."
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