Passion Week packing them in

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Churches across the city are taking part in &uot;Suffolk Community Holy Week&uot; services, and at noon n Tuesday, Bishop Barnett Karl Thoroughgood bid the Holy Spirit to enter into New Mt. Joy Family Worship Center as he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A standing-room only crowd of believers and non-believers alike rallied to their feet and clapped hands, lifted hands to God the Father and shouted for the sheer joy they shared in a time of worship with each other.


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Blacks, whites, rich and poor, professionals and blue collars – all gathered together, linking hands and praising God.

Thoroughgood was compelling as he challenged the &uot;hip-hop&uot; generation to put down their ways and pick up those of Jesus Christ. He also said that once they felt the spirit of God move within them, they certainly wouldn’t need hip-hop any longer.

&uot;Bringing down the house&uot; seemed to be the phrase that fit Tuesday’s service, since the people were urging Thoroughgood to preach it like he knew it – the gospel truth.

Backing up a vigorously preached biblical message was a powerfully sung song of worship with the Rev. J.J. Ferguson bringing the worship assembly to their feet and shouting for the Lord as his voice seemed to shake the timbers of the roof.

When Thoroughgood prayed and asked that any unsaved come to the altar, one woman took that walk. She wept as the elders and deacons prayed along with Thoroughgood. Cheers of encouragement and blessings filled the sanctuary as music filled the air in celebration.

This was the scene Tuesday and will be the typical service at New Mt. Joy all this week as the Community Holy Week Association leads local churches in celebrating the &uot;Passion Week,&uot; an observance of the time before the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Bishop W.P. Wiggins opened his church, New Mt. Joy (307 County St.), for services all this week, but many other ministers served on the committee for the programs including the Rev. Dr. Carlton R. Upton Sr., the Rev. James B. Williams, the Rev. J.J. Ferguson, the Rev. Dr. Anthony Copeland, the Rev. Carl Sweat, the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Hobbs, the Rev. Felton K. Whitfield, the Rev. Dr. Robert Barnes, the Rev. Carlton D. Everett, and the Rev. T. Floyd &uot;Skip&uot; Irby Jr., who actually presided over the Tuesday service.

At noon today, the presiding minister is the Rev. John Shappell, and along with another rousing message from Thoroughgood, there will be music provided by St. Paul RZUA Church.

On Thursday at New Mt. Joy, celebrate with Dr. Robert Barnes presiding and introducing the bishop; and on Friday, Thoroughgood will offer a call to discipleship.

All donations during this special week are being given to the Genieve Shelter for Battered and Abused Women.

On Sunday, churches across the city will celebrate Easter, and the Rev. Steven Blunt will greet his congregation of nearly 300 with blessings. A former resident of Franklin, Blunt came to First Baptist Mahan about two years ago. He is excited about the church and he and the congregation are building toward a great future for the church. He is also a great supporter of Passion Week.

&uot;I think the services leading up to Passion Week, the Lenten services, were wonderful,&uot; said Blunt. &uot;Not only are the ministers in this area trying to bring solidarity to the worship services, but also coming together in fellowship for the worship. This is Bishop Thoroughgood’s third year here, and the services just get better and better. I would encourage all who can to attend these very meaningful and exciting services.&uot;

Blunt added that Easter Sunday is sometimes referred to as the first Sunday of a new year in that it is a time when almost everyone attends church and ask forgiveness for their sins.

&uot;Really, the cause of authentic ministry is to restore a person in their relationship with God as to cause them to go somewhere to continue that relationship once they leave the Easter services,&uot; said Blunt.

&uot;You become effective in someone’s church in the community. That’s what it’s all about. As for myself, the Passion Week services have certainly ministered to me.&uot;