UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WUSA9)--It's a Sunday morning at First Baptist Church of Glenarden and the faithful have come in droves to hear John Jenkins, the popular pastor who's been preaching since age 15.
"It's not theory. It is practical application. Take the message of scriptures and apply it to my life," says Pastor Jenkins from the pulpit.
An average 11,000 people fill these pews on Sunday. Its a mega-church that attempts to meet--- not only the spiritual needs of its members-- but their physical and social needs as well. First Baptist Church of Glenarden offers 119 different ministries.
"Yeah a lot of people got touched and impacted by people outside these walls. That's why people come," says Pastor Jenkins.
Carolyn O'Bryant, a federal worker, joined the church 18 years ago as a single mother. She discovered women mentors and youth groups with church-going men willing to fill the void left by the absentee father of her twin boys, Joshua and Jerimiah. Both are now juniors at Forestville High School and preparing for college.
"They didn't judge. That's the biggest thing," says O'Bryant.
Tim Thomas kicked a crack cocaine habit through the church's "Turning Points" ministry. He's now a supervisor on the church's housekeeping staff. 'Like I said, I went from the crack house to the Christ house and this is the best house."
First Baptist is surrounded by the richest and most educated African American county in the United States. The congregation reflects that; but, the housing crisis left Prince George's County with one of the highest foreclosure rates. At every level people can be found still trying to recover from the bad economy and maybe some poor money decisions. Enter the First Baptist "Prosperity Partners" ministry where members are taught how to manage their finances.
"I was able to pay off $20,000 worth of my debt in my first year of Prosperity Partners," says Beth Adams.
Beth and Inga Adams were advised to share a home to cut expenses in half. Prosperity Partners is helping the sisters get out from under $90,000 in student loan debt and $37,000 in credit cards and medical bills. Prosperity Partners put them on a 21 day spending fast.
"Twenty-one days of no eating out, no shopping, entertainment," says Inga.
"No one can spend money on you either," says Beth.
John Jenkins took over First Baptist 26 years ago. There were four to five hundred members. but he was a pastor with big ideas who needed a bigger church. A mega-church requires big resources. Members of the church are expected to contribute one-tenth of their gross income.
"We have 300 employees, a school, a day care," says Jenkins.