“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Florise Pierre of Branchburg, who came to the Somerset mega-church with her son and daughter, as she does every Sunday.
“Our reverend is trying to raise discussions of African-American issues,” Pierre explained. “They picked the right church and the right reverend for the documentary.”
CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien and her producers are devoting the entire third installment of their documentary series, “Black in America,” to the members of the Somerset church and their activist pastor, the Rev. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. The program, titled “Churched,” will explore the role churches play in contemporary black America by focusing on three families in the congregation. It will air on Oct. 14.
A crowd of 1,200 packed the sanctuary for the 9 a.m. service, along with another 1,000 who came for an 11 a.m. service. CeCe Winans, the acclaimed gospel and R&B singer, made the sanctuary ring with a rousing rendition of the hymn “The Blood Will Never Lose its Power.” She was accompanied by the church’s choir and band, who already had the crowd clapping and on its feet after performing a series of high-energy spirituals to open the service.
Soaries, Winans’ onetime music manager and an old friend, selected Winans from a list proposed by CNN.