Andrea Williams’s spiritual journey has led her from a megachurch to a small one — and back again. A former project manager for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, she loved singing in the choir at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, which has nearly 10,000 members.
The church is a venue for music directors who have gone on to climb the gospel charts — including Byron Cage and Earnest Pugh, both celebrated gospel singers. But in 2009, Williams started attending a church of about 150 after she moved to Waldorf.
“Smaller churches give you an opportunity to use your gifts, as opposed to megachurches, where everything is already established,” she said.
But although Williams enjoyed her new church, she recently returned to Ebenezer, even though it means a 30-minute commute. “I missed the dynamic music department at the church,” she said. “I had to think about, ‘How best do I serve the Lord?’ ”
Back in Forestville, just off of Cryden Way, Shirley Berkley can be seen on Sundays playing hymns on the piano at the Maryland Family Christian Center, which has about 100 members. But Berkley, 83, is still a member of First Baptist, where she used to be the minister of music.
The Rev. Jerome Bell, the worship center’s pastor, said smaller churches hold a permanent space in the hearts of many.
“People are coming to smaller churches because they want a relationship with the Lord and their pastor,” Bell said. “In a megachurch, it’s hard for a pastor to shake 8,000 hands.”