Church Where Houston Got Her Start Mourns

The pastor of the Newark, N.J., church asked the media to respect the Houston family's wishes and privacy.

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The Newark, N.J., church where Whitney Houston got her start honored her on Sunday, according to Entertainment Weekly. The New Hope Baptist Church held an early-morning service in which prayers were given for Houston and her family.

The pastor, Joe Carter, asked reporters to respect the family's privacy. "The family shared Whitney with the world, but Whitney was a mother, a daughter and a sister, and that's the focus we want to keep in front of everyone today. We ask that in this time of grief, you respect their privacy," Carter said during his sermon.

Houston was born in Newark and grew up in neighboring East Orange. Many of the parishioners said she never forgot her Jersey roots. "I haven't been a regular churchgoer but felt I should be here today because this is a time for the community to come together," said Shawn Cooper, 32, of Newark. "The Houston family means a lot to this community, they have done a lot for this community, and being there for them is the best thing we can do as a community today."

Parishioners left sympathy cards outside a fence post at the church as well as flowers.

Charice Crawford, a 34-year-old Houston fan, said she needed church today to deal with the grief. "This is where I needed to be this morning," Crawford told Entertainment Weekly. "I understand why I couldn't attend the service, but being here helps ease the grief of her passing."

Read more at Entertainment Weekly.

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