Whitney Houston’s Faith and Fame Put Church in the Global Spotlight
By Mona Austin
New Hope is the place of Houston’s spiritual and gospel music heritage, the church home where her mother played the organ, directed the youth choir and shaped the foundation of her daughter’s god-given gift.
Joe A. Carter, New Hope’s current pastor was apparently honored to have shared his sanctuary with the world, but when he spoke on Sunday morning, ready to restore normalcy to his ministry, he told his flock he wanted to get back to shepherding them again.
Speaking for about 10 minutes before introducing a guest speaker, Pastor Carter had just returned from being with the family at Houston’s private burial at Westview Cemetery. He thanked his congregation and other city officials in attendance for carrying on with “grace and dignity” and lauded organizers for an event that went of without a hitch.
The family had decided to have the private ceremony at the 1500-seat sanctuary to avoid media scrutiny, a decision that put a local church in the international spotlight.
He said he would be glad when the “these six minutes of fame are over,” but didn’t hesitate to highlight the benefits of the attention. The pastor mentioned the church received 1600 messages from around the world via social media and email, complimenting him and the church for a job well done.
New Hope Baptist Church has a long history of meeting the needs of the community.
By the time Sunday morning service was underway the digital red letters on the marquee in front of the church that once flashed an announcement of Houston’s funeral announced an upcoming financial seminar.
Just a day before, millions of fans around the world watched as some of the most prominent names in entertainment and ministry, graced the pulpit to bid adieu to Houston with testimonials and songs, while a gold casket carried the precious remains of a Jersey Girl who never forgot where she came from was front and center.
Calling the overall experience “wonderful,” Pastor Carter tried hard, but failed not to come off as enamored by the regalia and pomp and circumstance the A-Listers that came along with hosting Houston’s final event brought. After all, with Kevin Costner, Tyler Perry, Stevie Wonder, Oprah and The Winans family in the same place at the same time, the only place on the face of the Earth where a pastor might not have been starstruck is in Hollywood, a place where Houston’s spirit resides, yet a place she never called home.
As for how Houston’s loved ones are coping with the enormous loss, Pastor Carter is one of few people who would know. Carter said, “The Lord is holding up the Houston family miraculously.”
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