June 23-24, 2005 in Detroit
Ronald Winans passed away on June 17th, in Detroit. GOSPELflava.com's special correspondant, Steven Jones, recaps the special tribute and service held for this beloved Gospel legend.
Thousands gathered on Thursday night, June 23, 2005 to pay their respects to Elder Ronald Winans at Perfecting Church in Detroit, where his younger brother Marvin L. Winans is pastor.
The tribute service was officiated by the former head of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW), Bishop Norman L. Wagner, who encouraged the family with kind words and the Word of God. Throughout the night, fond memories of Ron Winans from friends and family helped create a picture of who he was, the life he led, and the great legacy that he left behind.
Ron was well known to be a caring man who poured his life out for many. Among those who were beneficiaries of his generous spirit were the young men of Eastern Michigan University with whom Ron interacted and shared his views of holiness. They each took a turn in sharing stories of the Ron Winans they knew and loved. Statements such as “This man showed me holiness on an everyday basis” were frequently heard. Ron’s mentality when it came to his brothers in Christ was “What I do for you, you in turn do it for someone else,” a simple statement that encompassed the generosity and compassion he had for others.
One of the greatest testaments came from his heart surgeon, Dr. G. Michael Deeb, who tried to hold back the tears as he recalled operating on Ron nearly eight years ago, in 1997, and helping to bring him back to the land of the living. "Ron helped bring me back to God after I walked away from Him, thinking that it was me who was responsible for the patients I helped, when the reality is it was God."
The Perfecting Youth Chorale, founded by Ron Winans, came forth with several medleys of the best of Ron Winans including the Grammy-winning song led by his brother BeBe Winans, “Abundant Life”. Bebe took to the stage for a Spirit-filled rendition of the song that moved the family and all those in attendance.
Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed the crowd with a word of encouragement, reminding the Winans family that this was not a sad day for them or any other believers in the room because “soon it will be all over, and we will see Ron again.”
The night was truly a celebration of a man who touched the lives of thousands, not just across the nation, but across the world. His legacy will live on through the countless people he has touched and will continue to touch with memories and music.
On Friday June 24th, 2005, America’s “first family of Gospel music” laid their brother, Ronald Winans (48) to rest. While many home-going services are filled with sorrow and tears, the Winans family, all clothed in white, decided to take a different approach.
We’re "choosing to take on a garment of praise for any and all potential spirits of heaviness,” said CeCe Winans, who shouted around the church all night during the Thursday evening tribute to her brother, setting the stage for a wonderful memorial service filled with laughter, love, and praise to a man whose legacy will live on for years to come.
The service, officiated by Bishop Darrell Hines, opened up with scripture reading and a musical selection from The Clark Sisters, who sang "Is My Living In Vain" and spoke very fondly of the connections between The Winans and The Clark Sisters, thanking God for friends and family like Ron Winans.
Andrae Crouch gave some kind words and reflected on his memories, as it was he who played a major role in discovering The Winans in the late 1970’s, as he was blown away by their powerful song writing.
Rance Allen took to the stage and shared memories, helping to create one of the most moving moments of the service as he sang a song from Ron’s latest Family & Friends project, entitled "I Shall Not Die But Live."
Reflections from the clergy came from Bishop Andrew Merritt, Pastor Jackie McCullough, and Bishop TD Jakes, who reminded us to take comfort in knowing that Ron has been taken out of this world and whisked away from everything he’s ever known to find himself in the loving arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Reflections, poems, and songs came from his siblings, Carvin Sr., Daniel, BeBe, CeCe, Angie and Debbie, who had written a song, “I Long To See His Face”, that she felt described Ron’s heart. She sang the piece as a message to the friends and family that he has left behind.
The obituary was read in its entirety, presented to each attendee of the service in a 10 page packet. The obituary, written by Ron Winans himself before his passing, was moving to say the least, touching on every aspect of his life including his earliest memories, his conversion to Christ, his career in music, and his love for his family. Following the reading was a brief video presentation, followed by a sermonic solo from Bishop Paul Morton that brought not only the Winans family, but also the many attendees, to their feet in worship.
Bishop Noel Jones was then introduced as he gave the homily to a crowd of thousands who had gathered to pay their respects.
Among the crowd were Whitney Houston, Cedric Caldwell, Shirley Murdock, Lexi, Ted and Sheri, Byron Cage, and a host of other Gospel artists.
Friends, Family, and the Gospel Community reflect on the life of Ron Winans:
(scroll down page to see more photos)
“Ronald was my teddy bear friend. He is ‘the’ Gospel singer!” Vickie Winans
“[Ronald] was a great friend. He embraced me when I first came in the industry making it possible for me to enter Commissioned. There is no way I would have missed this trubute tonight.” Marvin Sapp
“When I think Winans, I think family. He loved his family. Ron Winans exemplified hard work. He put his all into his music.” Andrae Crouch
“I was on flight to the Stellar Awards and Ron happened to have a seat next to me. This was around the time my husband was diagnosed with cancer Ron really encouraged my husband and I.” [Lexi is currently producing a 30 minute special on the Word network of the life of Ron Winans and should air in the near future – Ed.] Lexi
“We are a connected people, the Winans and the Allens, and not because of our talent but because of our admiration for each other out of serving God. The service couldn't have been greater than today. My prayer is that his legacy would live on.” Rance Allen
“Ron helped open doors for me musically. He allowed me to come in and be a part of the family and the ministry God’s blessed them with. I’m going to miss him, but I will see him again!” Lena Starks
“Ronald’s life was representative of the single life of Christ. He devoted his singleness to the ministry of Christ.“ Pastor Horace Hockett
“It’s nice to come out of a service and feel good (why sad and have a heavy heart). God bless the Winans family ” Gayle King
"Ronald passing twice changed my life forever twice. The first time when God brought him back my faith went somewhere it never went before because when you witness God bring back someone from the dead, you know he can work out anything. This time when he passed, I changed again. My mind went straight to heaven and I’m so focused to live for him like never before, and I’ve realized there is nothing else important but loving God and loving each other. CeCe Winans
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Below are several photos from the Ronald Winans Service:
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