A picture caption in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post incorrectly stated that a dollar bill being accepted by Bishop McCollough of the United House of Prayer was a $1,000 offering. CAPTION: Picture 1, Bishop McCollough accepts $1,000-bill offering., By Vanessa R. Barnes - The Washington Post; Picture 2, Bishop Walter (Sweet Daddy) McCollough exhorts a gathering at an outside event of his United House of Prayer. Donations of $1,000 or more he handles per[WORD OMITTED FROM TEXT],Photos by Vanessa R. Barnes - The Washington Post; Picture 3, Bishop McCollough grandly waves to throng before entering his limousine here.
Everyone is waiting for the bishop to speak.
It is said among the city's political strategists that the bishop controls at least 2,000 votes among members of his congregation, the United House of Prayer for All People. With headquarters at 6th and M Streets in the heart of Shaw, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, the bishop's church is one of the richest and most influential.
In the race for mayor, with Walter Washington and Sterling Tucker now in a head-to-head stretch run, the support of Bishop Walter (Sweet Daddy) McCollough is considered critical. Nowhere in Washington is there another man thought to have the ability to deliver as many votes as the United House of Prayer's Bishop McCollough, variously designated as the commander, the leader, the inspector general and most positively in charge.
But, for now, the bishop is continuing to keep his suitors waiting.
The Tucker campaign had sent over D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy several times to persuade the bishop to support Tucker, but the bishop has left Fauntroy in doubt.
The Walter Washington camp, meanwhile, is baffled. One Washington strategist said the Bishop must want something, but no one knows what that is.
Political strategists here say you can't go around the bishop to get to his flock. With the millions of dollars he has collected through the years, the bishop feeds and houses hundreds of the members of his congregation and even sends many of their children to school.
If you want the votes of the House of Prayer flock, you have to get the blessing of the bishop.
"We sure would like to have his endorsement," said Gerald Wallett, campaign manager for Sterling Tucker.
"He's a significant force in this city," said Jim Hudson, a campaign strategist for Walter Washington. "He's in the tradition of the tightly-knit religious order where the leadership determines what the flock will do."
Back in 1974, McCollough endorsed Mayor Washington. The gold dome atop the United House of Prayer glowed, signifying the bishop's presence, as 3,000 people packed inside, literally hanging from the rafters, cheered when McCollough brought Walter Washington to the pulpit and said, simply, that Washington was "the man I support."
The Bishop is not so sure about Walter Washington this time.
"I had Tucker in mind," McCollough said last weekend in Newport News, Va., the second stop of a 28-state crusade, where he baptised 1,412 persons during a morning-long church service along the banks of the James River.
"I'm still torn, though, between him and Washington. I like Washington pretty good, you know, but I haven't liked the way he's moved on some matters. I still think he's one of the less evil men down there" (at the District Building).
The bishop said he would be back in Washington today and would probably announce his choice.
To Bishop McCollough, movement is everything. It is said of him that he can move people and money faster than anyone else in Washington. When he was ready for construction workers to get moving on his million-dollar housing project, McCollough Cannanland Apartments, located next to the church headquarters, he paid for it in cash.
He has raised over $90,000 during one church service, rising from his throne to personally accept all contributions of $1,000 or more.
During the mile-long parades that he puts on in near northwest Washington each year, the Bishop rides in a sleek black limousine with flashing chrome wire wheels, his five-foot-eight frame, comfortably reclined in luxury as he cruises through the streets often to the music of his bands.
In Newport News, he was carried piggy-back out of the James River by his elders, a tradition at the House of Prayer. Elder women fanned him as he passed; young boys bowed their heads.
McCollough succeeded the late Charles M. (Sweet Daddy) Grace in 1961 as head of the three million member evangelical church, taking over a $10 million empire after tangled and protracted legal battles over Grace's succession and financial legacy.
Since taking over as spiritual leader of the House of Prayer, which now has churches in 28 states, McCollough has continued to operate with the financial wizardry of his predecessor, a former short order cook who founded the church.
In addition to the low-cost apartments he has built in Shaw, he has built several others in Southeast Washington, where many of his flock live.
McCollough said many improvements had occurred in Washington city since he took over the House of Prayer 18 years ago. "The burning and all that went on (in 1968) has stopped and we've built up - but we still haven't fully recovered," he said.
"We still have too much land that we're not making good use of, land that should have been developed three, four years ago. If it had been left up to me, it would have been done by now."
McCollough said he had been "asking, not begging" the government to give him a parcel of vacant land across from his church on M Street NW, but "they just kept on fooling around with me.I tell them just give me the land, I'll develop it. But they never look at me like a developer. I don't know what's wrong with 'em, holding back like that."
Last week McCollough endorsed maverick City Councilman Douglas Moore for council chairman, saying he had "utmost respect" for what Moore was trying to accomplish in government.
"I just want to make this city a better place to live in," Bishop McCollough said, "so when I make my choice (for mayor) it will be with that in mind."