Aretha Franklin is remembered at New Bethel Baptist Church service

By Koco McAboy - Reporter, Dane Sager Kelly

DETROIT - The New Bethel Baptist Church, Aretha Franklin's home church, had a special dedication to the Queen of Soul during Sunday service.

Memorials outside the church have been growing since Franklin's death. The site is decorated with balloons, roses and handmade signs.

RELATED: Aretha Franklin's granddaughter posts moving tribute to social media

"She loved this church because she loved her father so much," said Pastor Robert Smith Jr. "She often called it her father's church, and there were no limits for what she would do for her father's church."

Services started with praise before shifting to honoring Franklin, telling stories about the icon, who she was, her connections to civil rights leaders -- Martin Luthor King Jr., her father C.L. Franklin and Rev. Jesse Jackson -- and what she's done for the community. 

Jackson spoke to the crowd, opening with a prayer before sharing a story from shortly before Franklin died.

"She'd be out of it for several days. I said 'Rere, it's Jesse.'" Jackson said. "She opened her eyes quickly and embraced my arm and we began to cry."

Jackson stayed by Franklin's side.

"We kept praying. We kept singing and asked the Lord that your will be done," Jackson said.

It was an emotional tribute from the church Franklin loved and called home.

The celebration of Franklin's life will start with a two-day public visitation from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 28 and 29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

RELATED: Dates announced for Aretha Franklin's visitation, funeral services in Detroit

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