"We believe in taking the church to the people. A lot of people who won't go to church will come to a tent in the park. They like it because they don't have to be dressed up. It's a good way to catch them."
And so Bishop Ralph E. Green, 48, and members of his Free Gospel Church of Christ in Coral Hills, Md., get out the big tent every summer to conduct revival and healing services in parks and other open spaces of the Washington area.
Green reported "close to 800 people a night" at the revival that began last Saturday at 4300 Anacostia Ave. NE, and will continue for another week.
About 25 or 30 each night, he said, have responded to the call to turn their lives around and become Christians.
"We're interested in getting people off the street, off of drugs. We pray that the sick will be healed." Green said. He said he believes the tent revivals are effective in achieving those goals. "We see a lot of positive results."
Some of those who find religion at his revivals are backsliders, he said. "A lot of them have dropped out of the church." In the tent meetings they realize what they have been missing "and they go back," he said.
At the revivals, "I work for everybody's church," Green said, adding that converts are encouraged to go to whatever church appeals to them.
Green's Free Gospel Church in Coral Hills, which he founded 21 years ago, is "one of the largest, fastest growing apostolic churches in the metropolitan area," he said. "We fellowship with most churches," he said. "We believe in sharing with anybody that is Christian."
When the series of revival services in Kenilworth Park come to an end next Saturday, Green and his aides will move the big top to Culpeper, Va., and later to Baltimore for services.