Pastor Dinah. Shekinah Temple Spirit of Truth Ministries. Hutchins.
The morning after we visited Ed Young Jr’s megachurch in Dallas, we were checking out of a La Quinta Inn when we heard loud music coming from a meeting room off the lobby. When we poked our heads in to investigate we discovered Pastor Dinah R. High and her small group of parishioners (there were ten people in the room, including the two pastors and an usher) holding a spirited service. We were welcomed as if we’d been coming every week, and ended up hanging out for two hours with one of the loveliest groups of people we’ve ever encountered on a Dispatch trip. Pastor Dinah interrupted the service and insisted that each of us take the microphone for introductions.
"The Lord has sent these people here to take pictures and witness God at work with us today," she said. "We’ve only been here for four weeks; we’re just babies, and you can surely see that we’re small in numbers, but we serve a living God. We have a little hip hop flavor, a little gospel flavor, a little old school flavor. God loves all the music and all the flavors."
Pastor Patrick Parker was running sound and pumping music through a boombox, and the worshipers —most of whom seemed to be related to Pastor Dinah— were active participants in the service, offering a steady chorus of hallelujahs, amens, and exhortations (“Walk it out!” “Yes indeed!” “My, my, my!”).
Pastor Dinah asked, “What is it, baby dolls, sons of God, that you need from Jesus today?” She said, “There are so many that passed on last night that we don’t even know about. Every one of us should be so thankful that we were able to get up this morning, put on our clothes, and walk out once again into this beautiful world.” She said, “God ain’t blessing mess. We’re here to celebrate the joy of the Lord and the joy of this life here on earth.”
She really hit her stride, though, during her sermon, which began with the words, “If you don’t know the difference between dressing and stuffing, baby, I feel nothing but sorry for you.” From there she was off and running, meandering like a Grateful Dead jam, discoursing on various types of dressing, rolls, pancakes, hot water corn bread, and good bread versus bad bread. The congregation egged her on as she built up steam: “Talk about the bread!” “Dressing is a blessing!” “I love me some pancakes!” “Make it plain!” And then, just when it seemed like the whole thing was an inspired but pointless exercise in absurdity, Pastor Dinah paused and brought it home with a rumination on the phrase “give us this day our daily bread,” the story of Jesus and the loaves and fishes, and the whole notion of spiritual nourishment and all the things it has signified throughout religious history.
At the end of the service Pastor Dinah blessed each of us in turn, and as she stood over me, held my hand, and thanked me for coming, her tears were splashing off my face. “Go out there and make some soul music,” she said. I told her I would try.