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Whitney Houston Mourned at Church Where Her Singing Career Began

Area residents reflect on passing of iconic singer

Hundreds gathered at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark early Sunday to , who began her public singing career as a member of the church's junior gospel choir at age 11.

Many said they were also there to show their support for the Houston family, including her mother, Cissy, who is an active member of the congregation.

"I heard her sing in this church, many times. It was awesome," said longtime parishioner Karen Winfield of West Orange, who referred to the singer's "impetuous smile."

Parishioner Daneen Grayson said Houston's battle against drug abuse "were her struggles, that was between her and God," a sentiment heard often this morning by worshipers filing past a gaggle of reporters into the church.

Sunday's 6:45 a.m. service was an opportunity for the New Hope community to mourn one of its own and to offer support for Houston's mother and other members of the family, who remain active with the century-old congregation.

"We ask for everyone to continue to lift up the Houston family with your prayers," Pastor Joseph Carter told reporters outside the church Sunday morning. "The family shared Whitney with the world but Whitney was a mother, daughter, sister, and that is the focus we want to maintain."

Carter also said he had "no word" on funeral arrangements.

Mourners left flowers in the metal railing of the fence outside the chrurch. A large crowd of reporters and TV crews were kept at a distance from the entrance. Reporters were not allowed inside for the service.

The public address system played a medley of the singer's hit songs.

Houston was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Saturday afternoon. She was 48.

The service at New Hope Baptist was dedicated to the Newark native, whose family later moved to East Orange after the 1967 Newark riots. Houston later owned a home in Mendham Township, where she and her family lived for many years.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker called Houston a "deep part our pride and collective heart."

"A legend has died. As the world mourns the loss of one of the all-time greats, we in Newark feel an especially deep sadness," he said in a written statement. "She will be missed. Our prayers are with her family."

Marco February 14, 2012 at 12:14 PM
The Narrow and Wide Gates 13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:21-23 21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but --only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! Luke 13:25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Lord, open the door for us!' But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from."
Marco February 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM
No one can strip us from God's hand As a christian you wanting her daughter to strip her name from her earthly father is not accurate. That would be dishonoring her father,,,he did nothing more wrong to deserve his daughter to do that to him she is his daughter forever and you cant take that from him even by removing his last name,,,,God gave that man his daughter and he gave her that name and so did Whitney respect Whitney as the mother and Bobby as the father Bobby and Bobby Christina learn from this grow stronger together as father and Daughter live life according to God's will not your own or according to other people Whitney is in God's hands now have faith in that.. know we serve a merciful god a wonderful God,,,God does not respect what people say,,,,and neither should you,,,,you cling to one another protect nurture love one another that is what God wants you to do,,,,not separate, dishonor you father or mother or even you self, let this be a message to grow closer together and closer to GOD.....
Robin Bartee February 14, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Although we would like to choose every step someone we love makes, please be sure that it's impossible. To her family, I wish you love and my sincere condolence during your time of lost. Whitney Houston's songs will live forever!
rosebud February 16, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Why can't she be remembered and appreciated for the music she gave to us. She was a song bird, she inspired us with her gift of song even praising his name. Why do we have to harp on her weaknesses, how did that affect me or you? That affected the people who were around her, her family and loved ones, so its not our business to comment of it. We got the best of her...and she should be remembered for that...Whitney girl...you were my girl...I loved your music and will continue to listen to it and enjoy it...to the end of my time...
sabrina January 08, 2013 at 07:07 AM
I love whitney houston I meet her greatest love of all concert I took a photo with my girl who I also o got a chance to hug her and kiss her and autograph photo and kiss her and took s photo holding hands with I will always love you whitney houston the voice my icon my legend I grew up her music she is my favorite female singer of all female singer yes that's right thadiva speaks highly of the one and only whitney houston her spirit dwells inside of me she even talks to me I also talk to whitney houston face to face after the concert I said whitney I love Nd she said I love you to baby it feel good to have your favorite singer tell you that that love you as much S you love them my girl I got nothing but love for you whitney houston I truly do adore and love a whole lot love you whitney houston baby.

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