PASTOR: the Rev. Antoinette D. Smith

SUNDAY ATTENDANCE: 23

SERVICE LENGTH: 114 minutes

DELAY: 18 minutes

BEST WORSHIPpER DRESS: three-button olive suit with brown lace-up shoes

CRYING TODDLERS: 0

DRUMMERS: 1

CONGREGATIONAL FERVOR: Running late Sunday mornings? Guiding Star Baptist Church will wait for you: The service began nearly 20 minutes after the 11 a.m. start time. Guests were warmly greeted, prayed for over the PA system, and hugged and kissed during the presentation of tithes and offerings. The church packs a one-two punch of gospel hymns sung from The New National Baptist Hymnal and contemporary preaching from evangelist Jenene Robinson. Shouted Robinson: “You got us up, O God. You allowed us to get dressed, O God. You brought us into your sanctuary, O God. We thank you!”

FOOD FOR THE SOUL:

“I had to come to an understanding,” said the Rev. Smith, “that the devil is not afraid of me. But he’s afraid of the word of God that lives inside me.” The congregation responded with countless amens. She continued: “Jesse Jackson, he’s not our leader. Al Sharpton, he’s not our leader. God is our leader.”

FOOD FOR THE BODY: No beverages or snacks were on hand on a recent Sunday visit.

OVERALL WORSHIP POWER RATING: Guiding Star’s mostly female leadership presents a unique perspective on worship. “The scriptures tell us that in the spirit, there is neither male nor female. I came up with a liberal idea of what it meant to be in the ministry,” says Smith, whose late father, the Rev. Raymond A. Smith, also preached at the church. The house of worship is one of two small Baptist churches within two blocks of each other. Trustee Oliver Clark says there’s no competition or ill will between Guiding Star and neighbor Grace United Baptist Church. “But they do come and visit us sometimes.”

Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery.