Lift me up

Perfect Peace Community Church

The PPCC Youth Choir raises the roof. Youth participation is a big part of services at PPCC. The church is at 528 Morrill Ave. Regular Sunday services are at 11 a.m. For more information, call 322-0386.

The PPCC Youth Choir raises the roof. Youth participation is a big part of services at PPCC. The church is at 528 Morrill Ave. Regular Sunday services are at 11 a.m. For more information, call 322-0386.

Photo by D. Brian Burghart

Let me let you in on a secret: These Filets of Soul are not entirely random. I’ve become sophisticated enough in my varieties of religious experience that I can choose a church, temple, mosque or meditation based on how I feel that week, whether I have Hunter with me, whether I want to get out of bed early—too many factors to name.

And Sunday, I had the blues—just a little down on the world, people and myself. I wanted to be near music and life and positivity. In short, I needed uplifting. So, I headed over to Pastor Mitchell Moore’s Perfect Peace Community Church. You may recall, a few weeks ago, I met Pastor Moore at his restaurant, M&M’s Fish & Chicken Shack. Only one problem: He was off for the weekend.

Well, I’m going to make a point of returning to the church to hear him speak in coming months (not too soon, I need to get around), but I wasn’t at all disappointed with my experience.

This is primarily an African-American church, evangelical in style. I’m not going to go deep into the minutiae of the service. It’s fairly standard: call to worship, devotion, singing, announcements and welcome to visitors, singing and offerings, reading and sermon, and altar call.

There were three things that struck me as extraordinary about this church and its 60-some person congregation: the music, the fellowship and the message. I’ve only been to a few churches that are the equal of the Perfect Peace Community Church with regard to the gospel-style singing. Even though the songs are led by certain groups, the entire congregation gets into it, belting out the lyrics with intensity, sincerity and hand-clapping. There was even a woman in the congregation with a tambourine.

As far as fellowship, I was made more than welcome. There were two points in the service where the minister called for us to go around the sanctuary and greet each other. I’ll bet I got hugs and handshakes from 30-40 men and women.

Minister Keith Sanders gave the sermon, which was on the topic, “What will your response be when you reach wit’s end?”

Minister Sanders is a talented and engaging speaker. He spoke from various passages of the Bible story about the resurrection of Lazarus; essentially John 11: 1-2; 11-20; 32-25; 39; 44. The sermon began with Minister Sanders making the point that even though Jesus was a friend of the family, when he was notified of Lazarus’ sickness, he intentionally delayed days before making the journey and calling Lazarus out of the crypt where he’d been placed four days prior.

Essentially, the sermon was about faith. Sometimes prayers go unanswered for a long time; sometimes, they’re never answered. The minister made the point that if prayers were answered on command, the person praying wouldn’t know who God is. In the story, Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead because it was to God’s greater glory to raise someone from the dead than to heal a sick friend.

“God has to allow those things to happen in order to take us to a higher level of faith,” he said. “He has to move us out of the ordinary. We experience God when we come to church. That kind of relationship is not good enough to take you through when life turns you upside down.”

This was the most interactive sermon I’ve seen, with Minister Sanders constantly saying, “Turn to your neighbor, and say, [for example] “I’m sorry for blaming you. I’m holding myself accountable.”

And that music, fellowship and message was exactly what I needed to hear that Sunday morning.