February 12th, 2012
10:17 AM ET

At church where Houston got start, congregants gather to mourn and reminisce

By the CNN Wire Staff

NEWARK, New Jersey (CNN) - As the sun rose the morning after Whitney Houston's death, congregants at the Baptist church where she began her singing career as a member of the junior gospel choir gathered to mourn, pray and share stories of the pop superstar.

The Houston family has been "inseparable" from New Hope Baptist Church, Pastor Joe A. Carter said in an interview Saturday night, and Whitney would continue to visit throughout her life.

Carter led the congregation in a prayer service for Whitney Houston on Sunday morning, "petitioning the Lord on behalf of Whitney's daughter, her mother, and the entire Houston Family," according to a statement on the church's website.

Houston, 48, was found dead Saturday by her bodyguard at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel.

Whitney Houston's mom, Cissy Houston - herself a renowned gospel singer - was director of sacred music at the church for 54 years and is still a member there.

Asked whether he had spoken to Cissy Houston, Carter said Sunday he had, and "she needs our prayers and support."

"Whitney was a mother, a daughter, a sister, and that's the focus that we want to keep in front of everyone today, to continue to lift the family up and respect this time of grief."

Those arriving for the service Sunday at the large brick church in a residential stretch of Newark were quiet and somber. Reporters were not allowed inside. One woman leaving Sunday services said the flock had prayed for Houston's family.

Church member Karen Winfield told CNN New York affiliate WABC that she has followed the Houstons’ musical careers for 60 years and has heard Whitney and Cissy Houston sing at the church.

“Her and her family have been real legends up North,” she said Sunday, referring to Whitney.  "So I'm here to support them at this time of sorrow.”

“I haven't slept - I've been up all night,” she said. “Just going over, listening to her songs and reminiscing about her life. And what's going to happen to her daughter. Her mom. Her brothers. But she's in a better place.”

Alvin Sims, associate minister at New Hope, called Houston a “powerful, powerful woman.”

“I have never heard a voice like hers, never” he told WABC. “That certainly is a gift from God.”

Whitney was born in Newark in 1963 and was soloing in the junior choir by age 11, according to the All Music Guide. "Whitney's mother and cousins nurtured her passion for gospel music since birth," according to Houston's official website. Her cousins include singers Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick, and her godmother was Aretha Franklin.

As a teenager, Houston would accompany her mother in concert.

A video posted on the Internet sharing site YouTube shows a young Houston singing the lead on the gospel song, "Have a Little Talk with Jesus," at the church.

The church's history is "deeply associated with the power of Whitney's voice and the influence that she's had, not only in this church but across the world," Carter said. "We're saddened at this loss."

One of the country's highest profile pastors, T.D. Jakes, said Sunday that Houston had completed work on a remake of the film "Sparkle," on which Jakes is a producer.

"We ask the world to join us in lifting up Whitney's family in prayer and ask God for their strength and comfort during this devastatingly difficult time," the Dallas, Texas based Jakes said in a statement. "At the apex of her career, Whitney had no peer, with a voice that shaped a generation. She has left behind a musical and film legacy that will endure."

Cissy Houston got her musical start in her family's gospel troupe and went on to record her own albums and to provide backup vocals to well-known soul and pop acts.

New Hope Baptist began operating in a Newark home in 1903, originally led by a preacher from North Carolina.

"As the world mourns the loss of one of the all-time greats, we in Newark feel an especially deep sadness," Newark Mayor Corey Booker said in a statement Saturday night. "She went from a Newark church to the global stage, but she always remained a deep part of our pride and collective heart."

"This church, the church that Whitney grew up in, is calling for prayer for her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, her mother ... and the entire Houston family and Whitney's fans," Carter said, appealing for privacy on behalf of the church and Houston's family.

–CNN's Poppy Harlow, Deb Feyerick, Laura Dolan and Dan Gilgoff contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Music • Uncategorized

soundoff (314 Responses)
  1. MINX

    May Whitney Houston's rest be peaceful. Condolences and sympathy to Whitney Houston's family and close friends. There will never be another talent like Ms. Houston.

    February 13, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • jimtanker

      She's now worm food just like enyone who has ever lived or ever will. She was a weak willed drug addict who gave nothing special to the world. All she did was intertain other weak minded people.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Smh

      @jimtanker Your inability to spell simple and common words let's us all know that you will definitely never contribute anything special to world! Have some compassion and show some respect!

      February 13, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • AGuest9

      Show some respect? For what? Like she would have even acknowledged YOUR life, let alone death, especially in her drug-induced stupor?

      February 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  2. Nii Croffie

    Jiimtanker revise your notes. Talking Serpent was a lizard not snake. Zombies are dead but Christ was alive. Cosmic means part of the universe but YHWH is not. Telepathy exists between physical beings. Prayer is b/n de Divine n humans. In short you want big words 2 hide ur ignorance of the Bible.

    February 13, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • jimtanker

      1. A reptile of the order Serpentes; a snake.

      1. the body of a dead person given the semblance of life by a supernatural force.

      You just saying that your god is not part of the universe does not make it real.

      Proving that telepathy exists in the first place is your fist step. If you can do this then you can claim the $1mil James Randi prize.

      I don’t have the first clue what you are trying to say about prayer. It doesn’t work either. Same goes for above.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  3. joe


    February 13, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  4. John

    C'mon Costner! You had one job and you blew it.

    February 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  5. jimtanker

    Dont care about Whitney Houston at all. She was a dopehead and kiIIed herself because she was weak minded and couldnt deal with the real world.

    February 13, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • No I.D.

      Obviously you care or you wouldn't have clicked on the story to comment idiot!

      February 13, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  6. 50/50

    @Yossarian...It doesnt make since (if you look at God through your eyes)for him to give up his only begotten son for mankind, so that we can hope for the future. and yes for even those who hated him. Im not sure what Jesus ever did to you personally, but I am sure we would have read about it in the bible...but i never saw your name.

    Instead Jesus came to earth and he showed failing Mankind that we can have a hope in the future and the evil and death will be done away with. He proved it with his miracles and they had a lasting impact on Mankind. He was not a con man. History has been full of Con men and persons who only wanted glory for themselves. He did not even want any Glory. In fact he said on many occasions that his Father in heavens was the provider of all things good.

    Mankind is in a situation that they cant get out of on their own. No human can bring lasting help and security. but as followers of Almighty God and his son, we do have faith because of the promises outlined in the Bible, that we will have a better future free of all of the bad hurt that has plagued Mankind.

    February 13, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • jimtanker

      Christianity – The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

      Jesus had a bad weekend for your sins.

      February 13, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Correct vision is 20/20

      Do you have even the SLIGHTEST tidbit of verifiable evidence for what you are saying, 50/50? You make a lot of assertions, but cannot provide any support beyond a book of ancient tribal superstitions, one of many such books (that all say very different things about Gods and morals).

      You make lots of big empty proclamations, but you may as well be pontificating on the evils of stepping on a crack, "for I tell you verifly, thou shalt break thy mother's back."

      You are 2,000 years behind, buddy. Catch up.

      February 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    "Our hearts, prayers and deepest symphaty to the bereaved family."

    I join that statement.

    Whitney Houston was well know even in Germany.

    It is only regretable that she consumed drugs and was obviously not very happy in her private life. I don't want to blame her for that. I think it is more and more a problem of our society as a whole that we have stopped to be truthful. We act everyday and try to conceal our personal mishap. There is a discrepancy between our public life and our privat life. That should not be.

    I think there is a basic general problem: The pop stars try to represent a world of wealth, happiness, freedom, etc. (the world of glamor). However, this world doesn't really exist, it is just fictional (glamor). In fact, the show business is just a business like any other one and it is all about making profit. The producers make much money by producing a big lie or show every day.

    I myself have finished to listen pop songs. Sometimes I could enjoy the melodies, but the lyrics are mostly so meaningless that I could start to cry.

    It is high time that we become truthful again.

    We should stop acting like the (drug-addicted) pop stars and admit our unhap, so that we may become really happy again.

    How to become happy again?

    We need the gospel of Jesus Christ (I know that Whitney Houston, was a Baptist, but in my sight the Baptists are a re-baptizing cult, which preaches a false gospel):

    Jesus has borne our sins, when he died for us on the cross. That is the gospel. Believe that and get baptized (if you have yet received infant baptism, don't get baptized again, but refer to your infant baptism). By faith and baptism you get physically connected with Christ's atonement, that means you have died and resurrected together with Jesus. By the power of Christ's death and resurrection you can overcome your old man of sin or your old sinful life and begin a life of Christian love. By practising Christian love the Oldtestament law is automatically fulfilled. Don't focus too much on the forgiveness, which God gives you indeed for free, but really try to live a Christian life by the power of God's releasing gospel. Forgiveness and New Life in Christ are a unit. You cannot receive forgiveness seperated from a New Life in Christ. God wants to give you forgiveness and a New Life at the some time as a unit. Either you take both presents or you will get nothing at all. At many places of the New Testament we can read that it is our responsibility to keep the faith.

    You may read the book "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

    February 13, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  8. myklds

    Our hearts, prayers and deepest symphaty to the bereaved family.

    RIP Whitney Houston, may all your trespasses have already been forgiven through the atponement of Jesus Christ and your good deeds will be rewarded.

    May our Heavenly Father will welcome you in His kingdom in heaven where you rest peacefully and lives forever in His Glory, Amen.

    February 13, 2012 at 3:46 am |
    • George

      May our Heavenly Father

      If there is a God it has to be a man. No woman would or could ever ef things up like this.

      February 13, 2012 at 4:51 am |
  9. Atheism is hostile to all living things including atheists themselves

    On the other article.


    Just like Sarah Palin, atheists always make believe that they have a say on anything. AS IF they're relevent, when they ARE NOT.

    February 13, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • Atheism is hostile to all living things including atheists themselves


      February 13, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Atheism is hostile to all living things including atheists themselves

      Atheists are such haters. I really love to insult them and bad mouth them. They just make me want to be mean and just do anything to kick them down a few notches. I really hate those haters a lot.

      February 13, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • Mirosal

      How very typically X-tian of you, troll.

      February 13, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      A couple of counter examples to the claim that Atheists are inherently hostile:

      The Atheist Centre of India supports intercaste marriages and actively works to end child marriages and caste separation. The also provide aid to women in distress such as single mothers and prost.itutes and promote equality of the se.xes. Their education campaigns are designed to fight dangerous supersti.tions and practices such as witch hunts.

      Earth's Atheist Resistance To Holy Wars And Religious Devastation, or EARTHWARD, provides humanitarian aid to victims of religiously motivated violence. EARTHWARD provides aid suited to the victims usually in the form of food, clean drinking water, temporary shelters and medical aid.
      Their mission is to help victims of religiously motivated crimes and violence whether committed by governments, individual terrorists, or organizations that claim religious justification for their crimes.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • AGuest9

      Hostile? I would say that The Crusades proved otherwise.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Atheism is hostile to all living things including atheists themselves.



      YES! You are right, but only the one ABOVE you, NOT the original poster.

      See? how desperate these type of creatures are? Resorting to stealing handles just to further their cause. PATHETIC, yet, how TYPICAL!

      February 14, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  10. Lmao

    Are real life atheists as angry as the ones in cnn comments section?

    February 12, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Richard Dawson

      Are real life Christians as rude and bigotted and intolerant and just plain mean as they are on the Belief Blog?

      Survey says YES!

      February 13, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  11. Typical

    Whats new.....atheists being hateful as always and are angry at the world, surprise surprise

    February 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Typical

      I really hate them. I get off on insulting them and talking smack about them, because I really hate them a lot. I hate them because they are haters.

      February 13, 2012 at 4:04 am |
  12. Tom

    Whitney Who-ston? Just another forgettable disco twit turned drug addict. Not newsworthy.

    February 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Tom, she was blessed with an angel's voice. At least Whitney used the gift she was given. And you?


      February 12, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • momoya


      Your commenting here BECAUSE Whitney is newsworthy. Nobody will be commenting about you on CNN when you take the big dirt nap–not even to say that you are a "forgettable disco twit turned addict." Your welcome, ar.se whole.

      February 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  13. Yossarian

    So God, why did you invent addiction?

    How about cancer and birth defects? Natural disasters? Pedophilia? Rape? Insanity?

    Why do you let good people get them as often as bad people? Why do bad people prosper at least as much as good people, if not more?

    Makes no sense for a god to do that. Especially not an all-knowing all-loving ever-present God.

    It makes perfect sense if there is no God, if the universe is just a natural system operating according to natural laws of physics and chemistry.

    February 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Life is a test from God. Do you think you'll get a passing grade Yossarian?


      February 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You think YOU will, HS?

      February 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Yossarian

      Birth defects are a test. Cancer is a test. Insanity is a test. Rape is a test. God's "testing" sure sounds like the testing Dr. Mengele did. Cruel and pointless – why keep repeating the test again and again and again, learning nothing over time?

      Even worse, according to scripture, God already knows the answer, so there is no point to the test. None.

      There is no test. The concept of test is just another manipulation to get people to conform, just another attempt to sell religion through fear.

      Live free of fear. Live free of Jesus and all the other impossible Gods.

      Your God makes no sense at all.

      February 13, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • myklds

      I think YOU will NOT, TTPS!

      February 13, 2012 at 3:49 am |
    • JF

      Ah...the o' "life is a test" theory.


      February 13, 2012 at 5:09 am |
    • AGuest9

      Not classic, sad. Sad that people think – NAY FEEL – that THEY are SO important that some "ultimate cosmic force" is going to be SO concerned about THEM. It's pathetic! No one cares, Yossarian. Life sucks, sometimes. Get used to it. You get up the next morning and move on, or you die. Decompose, rot, etc. There is no fantastic, ethereal plane of enlightened existence beyond this. This is reality. It's all there is. DEAL WITH IT!

      February 13, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, well, I'm SURE you're ABSOLUTELY right, my kids. SO GLAD you are working as a judge of others for Jesus.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • jimtanker

      Yea, because you know an all powerful and all knowing god would need to test you to know whether or not you are good enough. Right?

      February 13, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  14. Zahara

    RIP Whitney. We will miss you.

    February 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent


      February 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Not all of us. I don't miss the junkie that no longer stands on the corner, either.

      February 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom Tom Piper's son

      Oh, really? What in the world would you know about it, HS? Studied amen? Have a degree to prove that there's AMEN?

      February 13, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • 6seAtug


      Yeah.. right, not all..but MOST. And the HANDFUL rest of you who don't is absolutely IMMATERIAL, thus, IRRELEVANT!

      February 13, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • AGuest9

      So, those few of us that don't miss junkies are intelligent, cultured and respectable.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Tom Tom Piper's son, you have the right to be miserable all by yourself.


      February 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • ....

      "you have the right to be miserable all by yourself."

      pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot. – that log in your eye just keeps getting bigger.....

      February 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oooh, look, HS is all goose-pimples at hearing Whiney's voice! "It's the voice of an ANGEL!"

      As if anyone so tone-deaf to reality would know what a non-existent being sounds like.

      February 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  15. martini paul

    There is no sort of copyright on these posts, right? I can use them how I want - reprint them or whatever. Can I use the names as well?

    February 12, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Every post is copyrighted.
      C 2012 Halo of Flies

      February 12, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • JF

      One less junkie . . .

      February 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  16. Halo of Flies

    Whitney should still go to the party tonight! Afterall, it is in her hotel (well, before she died anyway) and if she were alive, she would have gone, passed out and been layed out for viewing in her room. So we just skip the partying, wheel her in and let the viewing begin. She would have wanted it that way.

    February 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  17. martini paul

    Atheism is the belief that hides under rocks.

    February 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      And this revelation has what to do with WH?

      February 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      But as long as you want to follow the usual us vs them blog prototype.....

      I am an athiest. Am I under a rock? What rock? What in the world are you talking about?

      February 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Try again. Something coherent, this time.

      February 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Martini Paul, PLEASE tell me what kind of martini you are drinking! Vodka? Dirty? How many olives? What brand? I can't drink those damn things anymore, give me a headache. But I used to love a nice Grey Goose, dirty with a twist and two olives....

      February 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  18. Chad

    So sad, what a voice..

    February 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Really Chad, it is sad because she could sing? I wonder how many marvelous singers are dead in ditches in Syria that will never get to show the world their chops. WH had it all. She gave it up. Good riddence.

      February 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Halo, give it a rest with your sin of envy (aka meaning jealousy). You couldn't even dream to hit the notes she landed. Never mind hold them as long as she did.


      February 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, really? What in the world would you know about it, HS? Studied voice? Music? Have a degree to prove it?

      February 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Tom Tom Alzheimer's Sam

      If there's something that can NOT be proven, it's YOU!

      February 13, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Wrong, herbie. I exist and can certainly prove it.

      Don't you ever get tired of being stupid?

      February 13, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  19. Halo of Flies

    They come in threes. Who will die next?

    February 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Some other washed-up has-been with an addiction problem, quite likely.

      February 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • phyllis freeman

      not necessarily that's superstius

      February 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Definition of superstius
      : of, relating to, or swayed by superstiusism
      — su•per•sti•usly adverb

      One who disagrees with superst.i.tion in favor of superstiusism to contradict a silly wives tale.

      February 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Flinders, the butler

      except that it's spelled superst'itiously

      February 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • I_get_it

      Halo of Flies

      Funny. 🙂

      Flinders, @HoF was joking...

      February 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Arizona Yankee

      Who is next you ask ? I hope and prey it is Obama, the nation destroyer.

      February 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Al

      unlike "W" who was a great president. Too bad he could only serve two terms. Just think of what he could have accomplished with 4 more years.

      February 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Al

      Seriously, with God on his side there was nothing stopping George Bush. Who knows,with another 4 years in the White House maybe we could have invaded another country and perhaps even more American soldiers could have been needlessly killed or disabled.

      George W. what a great leader. If only we had more Americans like him.

      February 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Al, see any parallels between Johnson's "Great Society" and the Bush II administration? I'll you a hint: war, aimed at the lower class.

      February 12, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Au contraire, mon frère. I certainly exist and it can be proven.

      Too bad you can't do anything of the sort with your god.

      February 13, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    February 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Russ

      “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Mt.6:5)

      February 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      I am praying I can control my need to do drugs, die young, and make my significant either dig poo out of my ass on national television (or ever). Thank you God.

      February 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Laughter lowers your blood pressure. "Prayer" is just talking to yourself.

      February 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on solutions to their problems.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Nope

      *The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs."""""`~~~~

      February 13, 2012 at 10:29 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.