On Saturday (Feb. 18), Whitney Houston was celebrated in a homegoing ceremony filled with fond memories and moving songs and expressions as family, friends and fans said goodbye to the 48-year-old superstar at New Hope Baptist Church in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
With a stirring sermon/eulogy by Pastor Marvin Winans about prioritizing your faith in God above all else (“The gifts that we have is God’s gift to us. But the life that we live is our gift to God.”), the ceremony centered upon Whitney’s unwavering faith and served as inspiration to all as Donnie McClurkin, Kim Burrell (View Video), Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, R. Kelly (View Video) and The Winans Family shared musical tributes with Tyler Perry (View Video), Bishop T.D. Jakes, Kevin Costner (View Video), Clive Davis, Whitney’s bodyguard Ray Watson, Rickey Minor, sister-in-law and manager Patricia Houston and cousin Dionne Warwick offering words to express their love and remembrance for her. Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Angela Bassett and Chaka Khan, among others, were also in attendance.
The Houston Family allowed the ceremony to be streamed online and televised, permitting the whole world to join them in saying goodbye to the one and only Whitney Houston. While the nearly four hour ceremony, which was presided over by Dionne, was filled with lots of laughs, of course a sense of sadness abound, particularly at the end (View Video) as Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You” played as her coffin was carried out with the sound of her mother and daughter crying as they walked behind it. Ray J also broke down after touching the casket and was comforted by his sister Brandy. In a letter published in the ceremony’s program, Cissy wrote that “I never told you that when you were born, the Holy Spirit told me that you would not be with me long. And I thank God for the beautiful flower he allowed me to raise and cherish for 48 years.”
Whitney will be buried Sunday in a private ceremony next to her father, John Russell Houston Jr., at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey.