TOPROC keeps the spirit alive


Pastor Jamel Smith Sr., from left, chaplain of Gospel Foundation Ministries at Lowell Correctional Institution; Pastor Gazell Scarborogh, assistant pastor at TOPROC; Pastor Iván Lajara of Ministerio Internacional and Elder David E. Richardson II, pastor of TOPROC.

Cleveland Tinker/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 3:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 3:11 p.m.

TOPROC Church of God in Christ is now holding its spirit-filled services in the historic Pleasant Street/5th Avenue Historic District.

Since March, the church has been having services at 302 NW 5th Ave. in the same small strip plaza that houses Ruby's "A Great Place to Eat" restaurant. The church previously held services at 800 NW 40th Ave. and has plans to renovate and move into the building that previously housed WKTK-FM at 1440 NE Waldo Road.

The service Sunday morning featured a sermon by Pastor Jamel Smith Sr., a member of the church and chaplain at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County. Smith delivered a powerful sermon, but before he was able to bring forth the word that God laid on his heart, parishioners and those on the program set the atmosphere in a mighty way.

It began with church members Erma Welcome and Dwight Merricks leading the call to worship and reading the scripture, which was taken from Psalm 150.

"We invite you in this place, oh God," said Merricks, with tears rolling down from his eyes. "Fill this place with your presence. Lift up your hands and cry out unto the Lord because he is worthy."

After Merricks read the scripture, he asked Missionary Khanya Bennett to give the invocation. After Bennett gave the invocation, she then led the praise team in praise and worship. The first song was "Every Praise is to Our Lord," and the church did just that by giving praise unto the Lord. The holy ghost took over the service as a praise party erupted with parishioners shouting, dancing and lifting their hands to praise the Lord.

Later in the service, Elder David E. Richardson II, pastor of the church, urged parishioners to keep on praising God.

"You know that it is He who did it for you," said Richardson, as parishioners in the church continued to dance and shout. Moments later, Richardson said one of the young ladies joyfully dancing for the Lord was doing so because she had recently had a successful major surgery.

"Sometimes, you see folks praising the Lord and you try to figure out why are they praising him so much," said Richardson, adding that God can never receive too much praise. "All of you ought to praise him right now simply because he is worthy."

Smith then began his sermon. Preaching from Isaiah 62:4 and 11-12 and Luke 19:5 and 9-10, the subject was "Sought Out."

Throughout his sermon, Smith used biblical examples to illustrate how God always has a plan for seeking out his people when they are in trouble or having hard times. In fact, another title for his sermon could have been, "Trouble Don't Last Always."

He used the relationship God had with the Israelites in the Old Testament to show how the love and mercy that God has for his people are more than sufficient.

Near the end of his sermon, Smith warned parishioners about the importance of staying humble.

"When you are in a position where you forget about what God has done for you, you are in a position for the devil to run all over you," Smith said.

The service also included an announcement by Pastor Gazell Scarborough, assistant pastor at TOPROC, that the church will be sharing its sanctuary with Ministerio Internacional Vino Nuevo, which is pastored by Pastor Iván Lajara. Lajara, a native of Puerto Rico who has been a pastor since 1997, has established three churches in Honduras while doing mission work there over the past 10 years.

"For those of us who know them, we really believe and know they love the Lord," Scarborough said.

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