The power of the gospel: Can black churches survive turbulent times?

Published: Sunday, Aug. 28 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

When the Legislature tried to do away with affirmative action last year, Davis invited the politicians to Calvary Baptist to have a discussion with his congregation. The passion and determination in the room was palpable.

"We will continue to try to giving the poor and the voiceless power," Davis said. "That's what we believe the Bible teaches us is right."

Calvary sponsors many programs designed to uplift not only the African American community, but also to help build bridges with the rest of society. The church sponsors subsidized housing for the elderly and disabled. Only a handful of the residents in Calvary Tower, the church's low-income housing complex, are congregation members.

"I trust two people in this world," said 78-year-old Patsy Moore, who is able to maintain her independence because Calvary rents her an apartment for a mere $275 a month. "That's my eldest son and Pastor Davis."

Every Sunday morning, members team up with believers from a local predominately-Hispanic church to feed the homeless at Pioneer Park.

As volunteers dish up chili and hot dogs, biscuits and traditional Mexican soup, a recording of Calvary's distinctive choir plays in the background. A line snakes through the trees and around the playground, where some have stowed their clothing and bedding underneath the slide for safekeeping.

"They're my family," says one volunteer, Mary Daniels, 63, of her fellow believers at Calvary Baptist Church.

Says another man, a non-believer with black leather skin and gnarled yellow nails, tapping his cane against the sidewalk, "I don't have much use for church. I don't need the food. I come here every Sunday because of my people. The black people. My people are here."

Member, nonmember, black, white, brown — Calvary Baptist doesn't care.

Davis prays for them all.

EMAIL: estuart@desnews.com, TWITTER: elizMstuart

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