Hours before the service’s scheduled start at 11 a.m. local time (1600 GMT), security was tight, with bomb-sniffing dogs checking media equipment and police officers searching bags.
Guests arrived at a different church several miles away to be bussed to the venue, walking past a throng of media.
Bush made it possible for her husband to have “the arc of his life,” said Karl Rove, who served as a chief political adviser for George W. Bush and spoke with him a few days ago.
“This is a family of great faith, of great conviction,” Rove said. “He has every comfort, every confidence of where his mother is.”
Following Saturday’s service, Bush will be buried on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station, next to her daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of 3. The motorcade carrying her body will traverse both George Bush Drive and Barbara Bush Drive on its way to the burial site.
Members of the public paid their respects on Friday, when Bush lay in repose at the church. The 93-year-old George H.W. Bush, seated in a wheelchair in front of the casket, greeted mourners in turn with a handshake.
Reporting by Erwin Seba; Writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Diane Craft and Matthew Lewis