“It was difficult as a child getting teased and bullied, feeling like I was the only one in pain,” Vujicic said, sharing a message about perseverance in the face of severe obstacles. “By the grace of God, I have a lot of people praying for me, loving me and caring for me.”
High-profile religious leaders such Vujicic often visit First Baptist of Glenarden to take part in events aimed at ministering to the congregation’s emotional and physical, as well as spiritual, needs.
During a midweek service, for example, minister and author Serita Jakes, stopped by to discuss her new novel, “The Crossing,” and to participate in a forum with the church’s first lady, Trina Jenkins.
The forum dealt with “post-traumatic stress,” a problem that many churches are failing to adequately address, the panelists said.
“In the church arena, we have been concentrating so much on the soul until we have not dealt enough with the inner man,” said Jakes, whose husband, Bishop T.D. Jakes, is pastor of a prominent Dallas megachurch. “After sitting across the table from moms with their children, young women who have been raped and people who have gone through traumatic experiences, I realized that the subject matter has been creeping into our churches and into our choir stands.”
Pastor John K. Jenkins said he doesn’t mind relinquishing his pulpit at First Baptist.
“The kingdom of God is so diverse, so many, so broad, that we want to give exposure to as many people as possible and to a variety of things that God is doing,” he said. “We want people to know that everybody has a place in God’s kingdom.”
First Baptist Church of Glenarden, one of most influential congregations in Prince George’s County, has grown from about 500 members in 1989, when Jenkins became pastor, to more than 10,000 today. The church built a 4,000-seat sanctuary — called the Worship Center — at 600 Watkins Park Dr. in Upper Marlboro four years ago.
The Worship Center has about 205,000 square feet, including the sanctuary and several rooms where the overflow crowd can watch services on large-screen televisions and where the church’s more than 100 ministries can operate.
The Health Ministry, for example, has a “nurse’s center,” with beds separated by curtains, similar to a hospital emergency room. It is staffed by nurses and other health professionals who are on hand to care for churchgoers in medical emergencies.
The audio-visual room, equipped with robotic cameras, is of professional quality, said Iris Skinner, director of public relations and marketing for the church. In another sound-proof room, members of the Spanish Ministry translate services for non-English-speaking members and guests, who are seated in the sanctuary with headphones.