February 18, 2012 18:14:20 GMT
After all the guests have arrived, Rev. Joe A. Carter greeted the crowd followed by a performance from gospel singer Donnie McClurkin and a word from actor Tyler Perry.
Whitney Houston's funeral on Saturday, February 18 was a star-studded affair as fellow celebrities poured in to New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. Spotted entering the church were Mary J. Blige, Forest Whitaker, Star Jones, Ray J, Diane Sawyer, and NJ governor Chris Christie.
Also coming early were Whitney's family, her mother Cissy Houston, her daughter Bobbi Kristina and her ex-husband Bobby Brown. A few minutes later, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King and Mariah Carey arrived simultaneously. There are 1,500 invitations for the funeral in total and they include Kevin Costner, Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys who are all scheduled to make a tribute for Whitney in their own ways.
All the while, fans are waiting outside the church to pay their last respect by creating a makeshift memorial outside using balloons.
The funeral was opened by a scripture from Rev. Joe A. Carter and followed by a performance from Rev. Donnie McClurkin backed up by choir. Actor Tyler Perry then shared a word about his late best friend, saying "There are two constants about Whitney that I know. There was a grace and caring. ...Nothing separates her from the love of God. ...What I know about her is that she loves her God. ... God bless you Whitney, we love you so much."
McClurkin went back on the podium to recall some funny moments he shared with Whitney before erupting into another performance where he sang, "I miss you". Bishop T.D. Jakes then preached about death which all human are subject to eventually. "Love will last forever, for God is love," he concluded. Rev. Kim Burrell later sang.