(Photo: REUTERS/Fred Prouser)
T.D. Jakes shared his grief over the death of Whitney Houston with his congregation during Sunday service at his Texas megachurch, just a day after the 48-year-old singer and actor died in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California.
Jakes, who is the lead pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, is the producer of the movie remake "Sparkle," planned for release in August and features Houston's last film project.
Many who worked with Houston on the movie's set during filming last October and November in Detroit said she was upbeat and appeared to be making a comeback, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Jakes praised God for the opportunity to have worked with Houston on the film project.
"I share the shock and was deeply stunned," Jakes told his congregation. A 3-minute video of him talking about Houston is available on his YouTube account (thepotterstube). "I'm going to ask the church to really reach out in prayer for her family."
The cause of her death may not be known until weeks later as toxicology results are awaited and an investigation is pending. But relatives of the singer told TMZ.com that prescription drugs and alcohol might have been the cause.
"Sometimes when you are a celebrity people forget that you are a person. But she is somebody's daughter. She's somebody's momma," Jakes continued. "Hearts are broken this morning and they are grieving. While it's appropriate that she is a tremendous talent beyond human expression … her ability … I don't think that we'll hear again in this generation a voice quite like Whitney Houston."
"She just took you there," he said, followed by many "amens" and a long applause from those in attendance at the church.
Jakes then referenced her public struggle with addictions.
"I believe to some degree that the reason so many people are captivated and shaken by her loss is that not only were we drawn in by her amazing talent, we also saw her many struggles and many of us begin to understand and relate to what it's like to be gifted and tormented in some way at the same time," he said.
"For all of us who have ever overcome anything or been through anything, and though you don't overcome anything in a straight line because sometimes you got it and sometimes it's got you, we were rooting for her and praying for her and standing with her," he added.
Jakes said he had the "privilege of working with Whitney" on the remake of "Sparkle" in Detroit.
"We were able to finish the project and able to capture the final film. We did not know it would be the final film that she would do. She was amazing on the set. There's so many things to be said about her talent and her fierce quality," he told the congregation.
"It pays so much to do what God says to do when God says do it, with whom God says do it. For you don't know the day nor the hour. I want to challenge you as a believer that whenever you meet anybody from any walk of life, no matter what you heard, no matter what you think, no matter what you read, treat people with love and respect and dignity because you don't know. You just don't know," he concludes in the video clip.
Houston fielded questions about "Sparkle" from a group of reporters at a church in Detroit's Indian Village in early November, the Press reported.
"I don't think of it as a comeback. I don't think of it as a pressure," Houston said. "I think of it as a gift that God gave me, to contribute to a cast of people who are working as hard, if not harder, than I."
Houston's funeral is scheduled for Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in New Jersey. The "invitation only" service is being held at the same church she sang at as a young girl.