Swaying to the beat of a tambourine, two dozen families clapped and sang Monday night to kick off a weeklong revival program in Annapolis.
Women cried out "Thank you, Jesus," as the Rev. Donald McAllister, pastor of the Redeemer Church of Christ, welcomed the group and prayed for healing. The rousing service was the first of five this week, billed as a "citywide revival," sponsored by the black Pentecostal congregation.
"I saw a need," said McAllister, who founded the church that has held services at Asbury United Methodist Church on West Street since last August.
"We just need to come together to do something for this city. I wanted to bring the leaders and the clergy together, so they, in turn, can bring the communities together."
McAllister said he is concerned by drug problems in the city and the toll of the recession. Families have been divided, and the city's communities are increasingly splintered and isolated, he said.
Other Annapolis residents attending the service expressed concern about fights between rival teen-age groups from the city's public housing communities and the lure of drugs for many youths. They came to pray for a renaissance ofcommunity spirit in Maryland's capital.
McAllister said he invited elected officials from the city and state to the service and hopes to continue regular fellowship meetings.
"I believe the city has been divided," said the 41-year-old minister from Oxon Hill, Prince George's County. "It's time for the city now to come together."
Services are planned every night this week starting at 7:30 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church at 87 West St.