The Sanctuary at Kingdom Square threw a party Saturday to highlight a church-led development in Capitol Heights. Small-business owners mixed with food vendors, politicians and congregation members at the event.

In 2004, the church purchased a 24-acre Central Avenue property then known as Hampton Mall. It is now in the midst of a $30 million project to upgrade the mall and add tenants to join businesses such as Staples, Long John Silver's and Checkers.

"We are having this outdoor festival to celebrate the revitalization of the mall and to celebrate the small business in the area" said the Rev. Anthony G. Maclin, the church pastor. "This is the rebirth of this community."

At the second annual "Kingdomfest," Maclin praised young entrepreneurs such as church member Andrea Dashiell, a senior at Suitland High School and owner of a home-based business called Honeecakes Bakery. She was selling a "Sock it To Me Cake" and other treats alongside other vendors under tents in a parking lot.

In another event Saturday during a nagging rain at the Upper Marlboro home of former state senator Tommie Broadwater Jr., about 200 people came to a foot-stomping gospel concert and fish fry featuring the Sensational Nightingales, the Highway QC's and the Zion Hill Gospel Singers.

"Despite the weather, people said we had one of the best concerts ever," Horace Thompson, the Nightingales' lead singer, said afterward. "It was nothing but God's grace."


Largo High School band members Jammie Dickens and Justin Douglas play at "Kingdomfest" in Capitol Heights.Jojo Wallace of the Sensational Nightingales prepares to play at a gospel concert Saturday in Upper Marlboro.Ronnie Brown, above, holds up a sign of inspiration as the Zion Hill Gospel Singers perform at the Upper Marlboro concert. At right, one of "Hat Lady" Theresa L. Banks's hats for sale at the second annual "Kingdomfest" event.