Detroit pastor and Grammy-winning gospel singer Marvin Winans said Tuesday he will preside at the funeral services for Whitney Houston. The private services are set for noon Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Houston’s hometown of Newark, N.J. Houston, 48, died Saturday in Beverly Hills.

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Winans, who serves at Perfecting Church on Detroit’s east side, said he has known Houston since the early ’80s, when she released her first album. He said he is delivering the homily at the request of the singer’s mother, Cissy Houston.Winans, who presided over the wedding of Houston and singer Bobby Brown, said he last saw Whitney Houston when she was in Detroit in late 2011 filming the remake of Sparkle– and she attended services at Perfecting.Houston was also very close with Winans’ younger sister, famed gospel singer CeCe Winans. Houston and CeCe sang Count on Me for the movie Waiting to Exhale, in which Houston starred.

Marvin Winans said the entire Winans family will attend the service. Asked whether any of the Winans will perform, he replied: “Whatever Momma Houston wants, that’s what she’s going to get.”

In Newark, Whigham Funeral Home owner Carolyn Whigham said the service will be by invitation only, reflecting the family’s decision to keep the memorial more personal. Outside the funeral home, Florence Daniels-Jackson used a cane for support as she made her way to the glass doors. Fifteen years ago, Houston took time to attend the funeral for Daniels-Jackson’s niece after the woman suffered an aneurysm at 28, Daniels-Jackson said. This is the church where Whitney Houston grew up – where she sang in the choir as a child – the 1500 seats, by invitation only, will undoubtedly be filled for her final farewell.

There will be no wake, no public viewing at the 18,000 seat Prudential Center a mile down the street, what would have been a chance for her many fans to say goodbye, a musical tribute much like the Jackson family held in memory of Michael back in 2009.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has ordered flags flown at half-staff Saturday at state government buildings, saying Houston is a “cultural icon” who belongs in the same category of New Jersey music history as Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen. Houston’s family is asking mourners to donate to the Whitney Houston Academy instead of sending flowers.

She continued to visit for many years after it was named in her honor in 1997. Click here to read more

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