Today is a monumental day in both pop and church culture; it is the day we lay to rest American Royalty – the Queen of Soul – Aretha Franklin.
After an eventful week mourning Aretha Franklin, the time has finally come for the world to say farewell in a final service. When the funeral program was released earlier this week, it read like a who’s who of celebrities and performers. Clergy is well represented on the program and will bring a vast array of religious expressions from the black community. It is no secret that the late Rev. C.L. Franklin’s style of black preaching still permeates the black church experience. Many preachers, regardless of their chosen denomination, still mimic Reverend Franklin’s exuberant delivery in the pulpit.
Today officially marks the end of their time and influence on the earth in physical form. Together, the Franklin’s have impacted the church, music and society for more than half of century. It is truly a day to celebrate and commemorate a legacy like no other.
Aretha Franklin took her father’s coaching with her in every song, every word. She was forever a church girl and her faith remained a large part of her life. We will see this today, reflected not only in the songs and the shouts, but especially in the preaching. The cast of clergy scheduled to pray, read scripture and give remarks are indicative of just how deep her roots in the church were.
Scheduled to speak at today’s service are (in order of appearance):
Prayer of Comfort: Dr. E.L. Branch, Pastor, Third New Hope Church
Old Testament: Bishop T.D. Jakes, Potter’s House, Dallas
New Testament: Pastor Solomon Kinloch, Triumph Church
The Psalm: Bishop P.A. Brooks, Pastor, New St. Paul Tabernacle Church
Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder, National Action Network
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder/President Rainbow P.U.S.H. Coalition
Dr. William J. Barber, II, Pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church, Goldsborough N.C.
Rev. James Holley, Retired Pastor, New Light Missionary Baptist Church
Eulogy: Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr., Pastor, Salem Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA
Host Pastor: Bishop Charles Ellis, Greater Grace Temple
Clergy scheduled to sing are:
The Clark Sisters (Evangelists Dorinda, Jackie and 1st Lady Karen), Pastor Shirley Caesar, Bishop Paul Morton and Bishop Marvin Sapp.
This is not to mention the presence of numerous clergy and dignitaries representing a variety of denominations.
This service is reflective of Heaven. No matter the denominational flag these leaders fly, together they will come together to contribute to a farewell fit for the Queen of Soul. Not all God’s children are represented here, but this is quite the magnificent gathering.
Denominations and fellowships represented at the service today are: Baptist, Church of God in Christ, Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, Disciples of Christ, Missionary Baptist, Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship and the Global United Fellowship.
Pastor Jasper Williams, Jr. is the perfect choice to eulogize Aretha Franklin. He was the Franklin family’s choice to eulogize Pastor C.L. Franklin in 1984. His sermon that day, titled “A Good Soldier”, remains the blueprint for preachers young and old to ‘chew’ on and study. Today promises no different. A full life that touched the world will be commemorated and celebrated at the preaching hour by one of the nation’s finest preachers. The world will come to know what is called “whooping” in the black church. Pastor C.L. Franklin was one of the best ever, and a seasoned Pastor Williams is quite possibly the best now.
Today is a celebration of many things: faith, family, friends and the indelible mark on humanity left by the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. This service represents what it looks like when all God’s children (of all denominations) get together!