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Pastor: Bishop Alfred A. Owens
Congregation Membership: 7,000
Sunday Attendance: 3,500 (estimated)
Service Length: 3 hours
Sample Worshipper Dress: white turtleneck sweater, brown shawl, brown slacks (at the casual “P.H.A.T. Sunday” service)
Number of Jumbo Projection Screens: 2
Number of Collection-Plate Passes: 3
Congregational Fervor: Congregants enter calmly, yet become enraptured when a young prayer leader announces, “This is the day that God has made, and we have come to be glad in it!” A well-rehearsed youth choir and full band accompany the speaker with a round of rousing “Hallelujah!”s. During the “pass the peace” portion of the service, congregants are unable to settle for a mere welcoming handshake. Instead, full-on hugs are exchanged between all in proximity. 5 stars
Food for the Soul: A three-hour service provides time for plenty of moving content. During one recent sermon, guest preacher the Rev. Dr. Rudolf McKissick sought to divine several lessons from 2 Samuel 12:15. While explaining the Lord’s punishment of David for the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, McKissick tossed in a few hip one-liners, including a pop-music reference: “God ain’t no R. Kelly,” he said, “and you can’t stay ‘Trapped in the Closet’ forever.” 4 stars
Food for the Body: While members exit the church after the service, attendants are on hand to give each congregant a single butter mint. Along the way to the parking lot, church youth operate small stands selling orange juice and an assortment of candy bars from coolers. Breakfast is usually available for a fee in the Kristel Room, which can be difficult for first-time visitors to locate in the labyrinthine church building. 2 stars
Overall Worship Power Rating: P.H.A.T. (Praising Him All the Time) Sunday, which takes place every fifth week, concentrates on presentations by and for Greater Mount Calvary’s youth ministry. “Eighteen-to-35 is the target demographic that all advertisers are hungry for,” announced one speaker as young adults were called to stand before the congregation. “We should be glad to have these people here.” 4 stars
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery.