Grammy award winning artist Vickie Winans mixed humor with foot stomping gospel during a concert Wednesday night at Greater Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md. Rev. Delman Coates and about 2,000 of his members celebrated the church’s 30th anniversary with a musical that also featured soloist Jonathan Nelson and Harvey Watkins and the Canton Spirituals.
While hosting concerts is the norm at many churches across the area, such an event was rather unique for the Harvard and Yale educated pastor who, since coming to Mount Ennon seven years ago, has become known more for political advocacy and protests against Black Entertainment Television executives and officials with the NAACP for promoting images in the media that he says degrade African Americans.
In 2008, Coates led protests for weeks outside the District home of BET CEO Debra Lee during what was called the “Enough is Enough,” campaign that resulted in bus loads of church members protesting the BET awards outside the Warner Theater. Last month Coates flipped the script on the NAACP after its Detroit Branch announced plans to present a Great Expectations award to Kid Rock.
“For the last five years we have been involved in media advocacy challenging some of the images in the entertainment industry and one of the things that we have learned is that you also have to provide positive alternatives,” said Coates, 38, whose casual dress and youthful appearance caused Winans to take a second look.
Winans who along with Watkins expressed gratitude that their music is being embraced by a new generation of church leaders like Coates. “He is a bad brother. When he came in the room I thought he wanted an autograph because he looks like he is about 12 . . . I said ‘How are you doing young man?” When Coates mentioned that he was the pastor, Winans said she was stunned by his understated demeanor.
Watkins, whose quartet has topped the gospel charts for years said, “We just want to tell the pastor and the church to keep on what they are doing,”