Nearly 2,000 people filled the Jericho City of Praise Easter Sunday where Evangelist Jasmin Scurlark preached as the new leader of the embattled Landover congregation that is hoping to begin a new chapter in its history.
Known nationally as “Dr. Jazz,” Scurlark walked into the pulpit dressed in red vestment and preached an Easter message that was focused on individual faith and how the success of Jericho will not be measured on how many people fill the pews.
“I told God that if only one more person showed up this morning at Jericho, I would shout,” Scurlark said from the pulpit, “I don’t need a crowd…or the sanctuary to be full. If he woke me up this morning, I can praise Him all by myself.”
Scurlark was hired by the governing board of the Jericho City of Praise in an effort to build up a congregation that has been divided since the death of Apostle Betty Peebles in October of 2010. In 2012 the group terminated Bishop Joel Peebles, Betty Peeble’s son, who had led the church since his mother fell ill about four years ago.
Joel Peebles is still hoping that he and his 12,000 followers will one day return to Jericho. On Sunday, his followers met they met at two different high schools.
While a bulk of the Jericho congregants are worshiping with Peebles at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt and Forestville Military Academy, Scurlark had a message for the greater Jericho family.
“I’m looking for all the Jericho people to know we’re back in business, we’re back in ministry,” preached as a worship leader lead the equivalent of a spiritual pep rally complete with young people dressed in white pants and pastel tops who danced in front of the pulpit.
During her sermon Scurlark focused on the story of Peter denying Jesus after he was arrested. She urged people to avoid denying the goodness of the Lord and quoting from the gospel of John and she said people don’t have joy in their lives today because they keep going back to things that God has delivered them from.
In an interview following the service, Scurlark played down the numbers of people who filled the pews on Sunday.
“I came here simply to minister to Peter,” Scurlark said. “When Jesus said tell the disciples and Peter and I came for Peter…No matter where you have been or where you are going, if Jesus got up from death, Hell and the grave, you can get up also.”
Freelance writer Jeannine Hunter contributed to this report.