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Vestal Goodman’s Home Going Celebration

Vestal’s Home Going Celebration I have had never been to the funeral of a legend such as Vestal Goodman, so it was a new experience for me. The service of her homegoing was as spiritually lit as any of her concerts. It truly was a celebration of her entrance into heaven. I now know that I was very blessed to be able to be in the studio, and watch as Vestal recorded the last song she would ever record. Having been able to have a one on one conversation with the queen of Gospel music just weeks before her passing gave me a different perspective of her funeral. I arrived at the church about 12 PM and had to park at what seemed to be miles away, but the church had a shuttle service for our convenience. With an hour yet to go before the service started, I was able to find a seat in the balcony. It was clear that thousands of people wanted to show this great lady the respect that she was so worthy of. We knew that we were getting close to the start when 89 Gaither Homecoming Friends filled the choir. Soon after that the guest singers and speakers filed in, followed by the three Ministers officiating the services. The Ministers soon left the Sanctuary to meet the coffin that held Vestal’s body and make the slow dirge around the church halls into the main entrance of the Sanctuary. As the song was played of George Jones singing “Mansion Over The Hill Top”, the Ministers led the procession as the rose draped coffin brought Vestal to the front of the stage one last time. They arrived just at the key change when Vestal’s strong voice started singing the second verse. The crowd erupted in praise and applause. The service started as Pastor of Christ Church, Rev L. H. Hardwick, Jr., gave the Invocation, read the scripture, and made his comments about Vestal and their friendship. He read a letter from Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen expressing his condolences, and as he was finishing the Governor’s letter, he was handed another letter expressing the Sympathy of President George W. Bush and his wife Laura. Joy Gardner then led those in attendance in Vestal’s favorite hymn “Blessed Assurance”. Next Dodie Osteen, wife of the late Rev John Osteen, renowned Pastor and television evangelist, gave her comments of her friendship with Vestal. Being a native of Alabama, Beth Chapman, Alabama State Auditor, expressed how Vestal had made a great difference in her spiritual life. She then gave the announcement that the State of Alabama is in the process of naming a section of highway near Vestal’s home town, the Vestal Goodman Highway. Unfortunately she passed away before she could be told the news. Janet Paschal then delivered a beautiful rendition of “How Are Things At Home”. Rev. Marvin Gorman then gave his comments, relating to how Vestal dropped what she was doing in her life to minister to him and his family in a very dark period in his life. Again the message of the day seemed to be how Vestal loved everyone, and how they cherished her friendship. Vestal reached across boundary lines in music. Several Country music artists were there including George Jones and Vince Gill. As the service proceeded Vince performed “Go Rest High On That Mountain”. At times having to check his apparent emotion, Rev. Johnny Minick, who sang with Vestal and Howard for several years and has been involved with the Happy Goodmans for many years, shared his friendship over the years with Vestal. Bringing to the service some of the humorous side of Vestal and yet extolling her great spiritual depth. Tanya Goodman Sykes sang “Look For Me”, followed by Ricky Goodman, Vestal and Howard’s son, giving a family tribute. Just before the Homecoming Friends started to sing, Bill Gaither brought to the podium a crystal cake dish. He explained that every time he was in Nashville, Vestal would bake him one of her famous coconut cakes. He was supposed to have returned it to her New Year’s Eve night, but she never made it to the Jubilate concert. Singing about 30 minutes they Homecoming choir rejoiced as the Holy Spirit ministered to the thousands in attendance. They sang such songs as “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now”, “Oh Come Angel Band”, and “The Eastern Gate”. The service ended with an electrifying video salute to Vestal which included “God Bless America”, “This Is Just What Heaven Means To Mean”, and The Eastern Gate”. All I can say is this was certainly a Celebration. Vestal was a blessing in her life and in her death. Deon Unthank

About This Article - Vestal Goodman’s Home Going Celebration

Deon Unthank's avatar Author: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Written: 01/02/2004 | Category: Feature ArticlesTributes Comments: 36

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Reader Comments

Thanks, Deon, from those of us who were great fans of this Great Lady, but were unable to attend to pay our respects.

By Debbie Knight on Fri, January 02, 2004 - 5:38:08

Thanks for the article. I would love to have been at the funeral to pay my respects to a lady that I had great love and admiration for. I just sit and cried when I heard the news. I will miss her greatly. No Gaither concert will ever be the same, nor will gospel music. Thank God for Vestal's life and her sharing so much of it with us.

By Sharon Umstead on Sat, January 03, 2004 - 1:08:50

:angel: what a wonderful article it was a blessing I have been looking for information on Sister Goodman and this was everything I wanted smile on another subject this website is the best Thank yall for doing a wonderful job

By chevie on Sat, January 03, 2004 - 6:37:20

i was there in west monroe many years ago when god gave vestal her strong voice when a storm destroyed the pa system. the next night vestal got up to sing god gave her a new voice how it has blessed mamy thru the seemed as tho one of my family has gonehow the world will miss her

By barbara jones wilson on Sat, January 03, 2004 - 12:36:29

Deon, I'm not trying to sound mean, but all the people in the choir were NOT members of the Gaither Homecoming. A lot were Christ Church members. I admired and loved Ms Vestal for many years, and will continue to love and listen to her music! She has always been a blessing to me. But the service for JD Sumner did out do this one. I think maybe the Holiday had a lot to do with many of the Gospel Music artist not being there, since most of them were traveling. I do feel no matter who attends your "homegoing", you Preach your own service by the way you live your life on this earth.

By Judy Brannin on Sat, January 03, 2004 - 2:46:11

By doris mbartlett on Sat, January 03, 2004 - 7:10:40

i saw vestal a little over a year ago when they were doing there last concerts. it was a wonderful concert and i have a 14 year old granson who loves gospel music and hew went and he really enjoyed him self. he was not going to go but he did and was so glad he went. the happy goodmans have been a favorite of mine for years. i have been going to gospel concerts for over 50 years. i live in the ft wth metro plex and have gone for years to the battle of songs. vestal will be greatly missed by everyone who ever heard her sing. i am like some of the others that i wish i could have gone to her service. she will be greatly missed by all.

By nancy dillow on Mon, January 05, 2004 - 2:47:35

i grew up watching The Happy Goodmans, on PTL years ago. since then i was forever a fan. i later found out that my family; The Singing Nitz Family had the privelage of doing some concerts with The Goodmans. i myself considered it an honor and privelage to have got to see Howard and Vestal in person. i even had the privelage of singing with Vestal "briefely", when "The Final Stand" tour came to the D.C. area. we sang the chorus to the old song "Hallelujah Square". i also just so happened to be in Spencer Tn, playing my first date as drummer/vocalist with Heartfaith, New Years Eve; which allowed me the pleasure of attending Vestal's "Homegoing" service the next day. i was truly blessed. it brought back alot of great memories; not only of The Goodmans, but also of my grandfather (Bob Nitz Sr.) who passed away in September. Vestal was a true woman of God! so real and genuine! she loved everyone, and everyone loved her. i'm sure that she's shaking the pillars of Heaven with her amazing voice! we will all miss her, and i look forward to seeing her in Heaven someday soon. till then, we must all continue to carry the torch that she and so many others, have pased on to us. lets keep singing for the Lord! lifting up those who are down, saving those who are lost! let us honor her by living according to her example! WE LOVE YOU VESTAL!

By Shayne Mathena on Tue, January 06, 2004 - 7:11:33

By Rhonda Barnes on Tue, January 06, 2004 - 1:15:01

I really loved the detailed article. I know all of fans that did not get to go to the funeral that loved her very much.

By Rhonda Barnes on Tue, January 06, 2004 - 1:16:39

Thank you so much for giving us such a "full" article about Vestal's homegoing! She was a great warrior for our God!

By Marlew2 on Tue, January 06, 2004 - 2:17:09

Wow what a article. I could hardly keep from crying on the part of Vestal casket being brought to the front of the church then her voice ringing out Mansion over the Hilltop.
I'm sure that was a very emotinal moment for all there.
I would loved to have paid my last respects to her and her family,but it would be hard for everyone to make the trip there and the Church to hold all the people whos lifes she has touched in her life time.
What a Legacey she has left for all of us !!! :cry:
I will miss her and he beautiful spirit and voice.
I'm sure if she could come back she would never leave the place she has
gone to.
She was a good excample of a true Christian!!!!
I'm so glad we have all the recording of her to have the rest of our days.
Brenda Cornett Livesay of the Frosts

By Brenda Cornett Livesay on Tue, January 06, 2004 - 3:15:26

A brighter “star” shines in Heaven as Vestal takes her place with Jesus. To Vestal, we all were her “Darlin’s,” but she never failed to thank her beloved Jesus when the applause heightened to its thunderous roar. We all find comfort in knowing that as her music and ministry live on forever, her star will shine in our hearts as well.

By John Wieneman on Wed, January 07, 2004 - 2:16:35

If anyone was a true saint of God, it was Vestel. My family just watched the first homecoming video last night, it meant so much more to us knowing so many in that video had gone on to a better place. We will miss you Vestal. :angel:

By Jackie Solloway on Wed, January 07, 2004 - 1:20:52

Thank you for such a nice article on the life and homegoing of such a beautiful, talented saint of God! This past year, I lost three family members, an aunt, a great aunt and a cousin and several friends to death. I know though, that each of them is in heaven. Heaven is truly getting more precious all the time. It makes us look forward to our time when we too get to go to that place and what company we will be in!!!

By Richard Dezarn on Wed, January 07, 2004 - 4:51:33

I was so sad to hear of Vestal's death. I have never met her, but admired her so much and really loved her voice! She felt like a sister! And she is in Christ! I loved reading about her going home Celebration! THANKS!

By Jacqueline Leavitt on Sat, January 10, 2004 - 6:41:43

Vestal Goodman, a beloved Saint of God, we will miss you but we know that we meet again in that massion in the sky. You have truly blessed the hearts of many people around this fair world.

By William Crowder on Sun, January 11, 2004 - 2:00:33

Thank you for the great article about Vestal. She will certainly be missed here on earth, but what a glorious Homecoming to be with Jesus. I loved all of their songs, but "This is what Heaven means to me" is really my favorite. For those who believe in Jesus, we will see them again some day, and continue to hear their singing. Praise the Lord

By Gloria Vigil on Sun, January 11, 2004 - 12:22:46

Thank you for the great article about Vestal's service. It gave us a glimpse of what a wonderful service it must've been! I have been a fan of Vestal's for many many years and will miss her greatly. To me, her strong anointed voice surpassed all others and the homecoming shows will just not be the same without her! I can't wait to hear her sing in heaven!! Vestal was not just a singer, but a minister and that really set her apart. I'm wondering if there is a video of her homegoing service available? It would be wonderful to see it!

By Lorna Adams on Sun, January 11, 2004 - 7:44:48

I was very sad to hear that Vestal left us. She was a very special person. I remember when I was growing up in Beaumont Texas, I heard that voice on a tape and I thought, "I have got to hear more of this person's music!" She had a voice that a person would never never forget - a ministering voice. I'm sure she has given the angels' choir a gret boost!

By Rev. Laura Foster on Sun, January 11, 2004 - 7:51:23