Whitney Houston’s funeral will be held on Saturday in the church where she first showcased her singing talents as a child, her family choosing to remember her in a private service rather than in a public event at an arena. No public memorial service is planned, the family said. More details below…
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NBC Chicago reports:
Whitney Houston wil be laid to rest after a private, invitation-only funeral at her childhood New Jersey church, instead of a public memorial at a Newark arena.
The 18,000-seat Prudential Center had been planned as a setting for a public memorial, but the family decided overnight to keep services private, NBC New York reported.
“Whitney has shared her entire life with the public. This is her final farewell. Let her family share that time with her,” said Carolyn Whigham, owner of the funeral home handling the arrangements.
The private funeral will be held Saturday at noon at New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston got her start singing in the choir.
The family is “planning a joyful celebration of life,” according to the Rev. Joe Carter.
“It’s going to be a very musical celebration,” Carter told NBC New York, “and we’re looking to help the family grieve and mourn the loss, and at the same time, add some joy to this very sad, sad moment.”
Carter said the eulogy would be given by Marvin L. Winans, a gospel singer and longtime friend of Houston.
The funeral is scheduled for noon and will not be open to the public or media, organizers said. The church seats about 1,500. Gov. Chris Christie said flags will fly at half-staff throughout the state on Saturday.
Thousands more had been expected to attend the Prudential memorial, which showed Houston’s face in lights Monday night in tribute. Crowds will likely swell in the area around New Hope Baptist Church instead.
Houston’s family is asking that any donations in her memory be sent to the arts-focused public school that she attended as a child and that is now named after her.
In lieu of flowers, they said mourners should donate to the Whitney Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts in East Orange, where she was raised.
Houston attended the school as a girl when it was named the Franklin School. She was a regular visitor for many years afterward.