They are hardly noticeable, the way they blend in with their neighborhoods. No steeples soar from their roofs; no colorful gothic windows light their interiors. But inside Washington's storefront churches, mingled with folding metal chairs and makeshift pews, is a strong, disarming faith in Jesus.
At the Christian Tabernacle Church of God, Inc., the Rev. William F. Hart zips down the center aisle, perspiring into his microphone, exhorting, "Jesus has no storefronts. The only thing that keeps us in this building is an economic handicap. We may not be called to prayer on Capitol Hill, we may not be called to prayer at the White House, we may not be called to prayer at the mayor's office, but we've been called to say a prayer in the community."
Most of the pastors -- some ordained, some not -- work other jobs during the week. They are weekend reverends, supported and endorsed by their families -- organ-playing sons, singing daughters-in-law, wives with collection plates.
At Gethsemane Church of God in Christ, the first collection bring in $50 -- not enough for the choir's radio time.
"Give what you can. Give what you can," the minister's wife pleads. "We need $20 more, can you give it?"
The plate is passed again. And again.
The services -- which can last up to six hours -- are not shaped by missals, prayerbooks or hymnals. They rise, free-form, from emotions, as worshippers shout out their testimonies:
"I am no longer restless. I have found Jesus and he has given rest to me.
I don't need alcohol or drugs or any of the other substitutes that people take to calm them. I have found the restfulness of Jesus. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah."