Houston was born in Newark, and raised in neighboring East Orange. As a child she sang at the church, where her Grammy-award winning gospel singer mother, Cissy Houston, led the music program.
A service was conducted early this morning at the New Hope Baptist Church, but it was only open to church members.
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, Shawn Cooper told Entertainment Weekly as he left the service. 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.
Cooper said that the pastor asked church goers to support the Houston family, and give them strength in this sad time. Before the service the Rev. Joe Carter also addressed the reporters that had gathered in front of the church, asking them to respect the Houston 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.
Outside the church, sympathy cards were tied to a fence post along with fresh flowers.