Just weeks ago, Pastor Smith says she contacted him about performing at the church's annual benefit concert.
"It was handsome. The audience was incredibly diverse, all ages".
"We believe she'll pull through it, she believes she'll pull through it, and that's the important thing".
Aretha - whose three siblings all died of cancer - has battled ill health over the last few years and in 2011, denied she was suffering from pancreatic cancer, though she later admitted she'd had a tumour removed.
"Her legacy is larger than life". She grew up singing in her dad's house of worship, New Bethel Baptist Church on Linwood.More news: Cristiano Ronaldo Scores In First Juventus Friendly Apperance
More news: Nasa probe blasts off to the Sun after 60-year project
More news: At least 4 people dead in shooting, Canadian police say
Roland Martin, a journalist who frequently covers Franklin, took to Twitter to address her health condition, writing, "Many of you are asking me to confirm the health status of @ArethaFranklin".
As the Detroit Free Press reports, the couple opened their August 13 concert at Detroit's Ford Field by announcing that it was dedicated to Franklin. "Aretha's dead",'" he said. She sang at the inaugurations of Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987 - a year before the Beatles were inducted. In her decades-long career, her hits spanned the genres, from soul to R&B, gospel and pop.
Aretha was a bridge between religion, pop culture and civil rights, said C. Shawn McGuffey, associate professor of sociology and director of the African and African Diaspora studies at Boston College. In 1994, at age 52, she became the youngest at that time to receive a Kennedy Center Honor. "Thankxxx for your concern,"(sic) she added. "Since she's still making music now, she can be another bridge between young people and older people".
"I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyoncé", Franklin said in a statement at the time. "She always had the pulse of what women were dealing with. She's a wonderful person".