The Washington Post

At the revival: People’s Congregational

It was revival time at Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ in Northwest and the guest speaker was the pastor of President Obama’s former church in Chicago.

And no, it wasn’t the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He retired.

His replacement was the Rev. Otis Moss III. And on Thursday evening, Moss whipped up a spiritual storm when he opened his bible to the gospel of John and preached about how Jesus spit on the ground, grabbed some dirt and healed a blind man.

“We serve a God who can transform you from one level to another level,” Moss told the audience. His example was the how Wilma Rudolph defied medical odds and beat polio to become and Olympic gold medalist in track because of her praying grandmother.

“Every night Big Mama prayed for baby girl,” Moss said. “She didn’t go to a main line church. She went to one of those storefront Pentecostal churches where the elders laid hands on baby girl… She felt a tingling sensation and baby girl started to run and she kept on running.”

As Moss preached, seated in the pulpit was Rev. Michael C. Murphy, a Chicago native and senior pastor of Peoples Congregational. He said the old-fashion revival is part of a new evangelist outreach effort at a 120-year-old District congregation that has a proud legacy of spirituality, community service and social activism. The congregation is home to a vibrant African American middle class families.

“Looking back, moving forward and press on. That’s our theme,” said Murphy, who became the church’s 9th senior minister less than two years ago. “I see Peoples as a progressive Christian community, called by faith, led by hope and united by love to build strong committed disciples for Jesus Christ.”

Gospel rapper Meredith R. Morgan, also known as "Mission Oriented." (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Post)

“We appreciate the past but now we are ready to do some different things to be all that we can be for Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Leslie Dowdell-Cannon, a long time leader at People’s. “Revival is a little bit new to Peoples Church.”

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Hamil Harris is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of The Washington Post.


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