The Jehovah's Witnesses are planning a private memorial service for the late Prince this weekend. Kari Spreeman, a spokeswoman for the Minnetonka Police Department, says a Kingdom Hall in the suburb asked police to provide traffic control for the invitation-only service Sunday evening.
Prince joined the Jehovah's Witnesses in 2001, following a two-year debate with friend and fellow Jehovah's Witness musician Larry Graham. Prince said that he did not consider it a conversion, but a "realization". "It's like Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix", he explained.
Prince attended meetings at a local Kingdom Hall and occasionally knocked on people's doors to discuss his faith. Prince had needed double hip-replacement surgery since 2005 but would not undergo the operation unless it was a bloodless surgery, because Jehovah's Witnesses typically do not accept blood products. The condition was caused by repeated onstage dancing in high-heeled boots. Prince had been using canes as part of his outfit from the early 1990s onwards; towards the end of his life when he regularly walked with a cane in public engagements, this led to speculation that it resulted from not having the surgery.
As a Jehovah's Witness, Prince did not speak publicly about his charitable endeavors; the extent of his activism, philanthropy, and charity was publicized posthumously. In 2001, Prince donated $12,000 anonymously to the Louisville Free Public Library system to keep the historic Western Branch Library, the first full service library for African Americans in the country, from closure. Also in 2001, he anonymously paid off the medical bills of drummer Clyde Stubblefield, who was undergoing cancer treatment In 2015, he conceived and launched YesWeCode, paying for many hackathons outright and performing at some of them. He also helped fund Green for All.
Minneapolis law firm Gray Plant Mooty, which is representing Prince's sister Tyka Nelson, declined to comment in a statement Friday. The Kingdom Hall did not respond to a request for comment.