By Stephanie R. Jones
New Jerusalem Church started the week of Thanksgiving with a rousing performance Sunday in the sanctuary featuring national gospel artists Pastor Charles Perkins, Michelle Williams and Byron Cage.
Jackson was a stop on the Inspired People’s Holiday Praise: The Thankful Tour headlined by Perkins, pastor of Fellowship Church of Chicago.
New Jerusalem Pastor Dwayne K. Pickett said while he’s been in ministry for 20-plus years this was his first Christian concert of this type. “My folks went to blues concerts,” Pickett said.
He and his wife, Tracy, stayed for the entire concert, which had a packed house on their feet throughout the performance.
Pickett gave the performance a thumbs-up at the end.
The performers made the evening even more special for attendees who paid $20-$35 for tickets by mingling and taking cell phone photos with many before and after the concert.
Jenkins is an award-winning songwriter and pastor of the 8,000-member Fellowship Church founded by the Rev. Clay Evans in 1950. His radio smash “War” spent five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay Chart and 55 weeks on the overall survey.
“It’s been an amazing year for us, and we’re all so thankful,” Jenkins said.
His song “Awesome” topped the Billboard Magazine Hot Gospel Songs chart for 22 weeks in 2012 and won a BMI award in 2014 for more than 100,000-lifetime radio spins.
Jenkins and his brother Carlton Jenkins went over the last-minute song lineup before the show, which was hosted by Charles Jenkins’ wife, Tyra Jenkins.
Cage, known as the “Prince of Praise” for such songs as “I Will Bless the Lord” and “The Presence of the Lord,” was battling a sinus infection that left him coughing but went on to deliver an inspiring performance anyway.
“I’m glad to be in a city where people know the gospel and know God,” said Cage, a Detroit native who now lives in Atlanta. “Despite the cough, I know I am here by faith in his name to go forth and perform tonight.”
Grammy winner Williams, formerly of Destiny’s Child, drew the audience in with her testimony of growing up in the Church of God In Christ and deciding to sing secular music. She said while her career with the group was all that many would wish for she went through a period of depression, part of what led to her decision to go back to her roots.
Williams said she felt something missing in her life.
She said she always did a gospel song when performing with the group, “Steal Away to Jesus” (a Shirley Ceasar classic) and was always amazed at how people would get the message of that song.
She inspired the crowd with her hits “Fire” and “Believe in Me.”
“I had come to believe what people were telling me, chasing what others said it took to be successful instead of listening to God,” said Williams, who was dressed in a sequined two-piece skirt set and 5 or 6-inch platforms.
Perkins took the stage for a duet with Kevin Vasser and ended his performance alongside Chandra Wise of 97.7 FM, which sponsored the concert.
Perkins had the crowd on its feet with his youthful style of praise.
He also shared his testimony as did Williams and Cage.
“You can look at people and have no idea what they’ve been through by what they look like now,” Perkins said.
Stephanie R. Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 454-0372.