On any Sunday, you’re going to see and hear plenty of spirit – fervent expressions of belief and open acts of kindness – at Saint Mark United Methodist Church.
But this Sunday morning was extra special, extra spirited, because the Wichita service was being taped for a one-hour national broadcast to air on Christmas Eve or very early Christmas morning, with the potential of 40 million viewers.
“We are extremely excited about it,” said Senior Pastor Junius Dotson, who leads the church on Lorraine, near 13th and Hillside.
Sunday’s taping will allow the church to share its message with a huge audience and put a positive spotlight on Wichita, Dotson said.
The service is scheduled to air on ABC affiliates nationally. It will air locally from 12:05 a.m. to 1:05 a.m. Dec. 25. Local viewers can go to the church website for more information at www.saintmarkumc.com.
For Sunday’s taping, about 1,800 people filled the pews and chairs set up in front of a giant illuminated cross that hung above the 100-voice choir.
The church, which just celebrated its 103rd year, also has a south-side campus. It has a total of 3,500 members. As part of its role in the community, it provides mentors in schools, a weekly community breakfast and a prison ministry, Dotson said.
Church members seemed extra happy Sunday, and many wore festive red. Around the time the taping began, a woman announced to the audience: “We want to catch your beautiful faces on camera this morning.”
“God is good,” said church usher Patricia Williams, telling a reporter what Sunday’s taping meant to her. “This a special day” for a “most spiritual church,” said Williams, who has been a member of the church for 20 years. “And everybody’s welcome.”
As the taping went on, a camera on a long boom, brought in for the taping, began to pivot back and forth, recording the sights and sounds across the big church.
The audience rocked and swayed to the rich voices of female soloists, accompanied by polished musicians and the powerful choir.
“Oh, how we love you. … Oh, how we praise you,” they sang. “Oh, how I love Jesus because he first loved me.”