It’s altar call and the Rev. David F. Richards III, dressed in a flowing white and gold embroidered grand boubou, invites members of New Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church to pray.
For those who cannot kneel at the altar, he walks to them and prays with them or sends the associate minister, who holds one man’s hand as he bows his head.
They don’t have to raise their hands. He knows his congregation well enough to know when there’s need for prayer.
It’s that kind of closeness that has kept members like Melanie Few coming back to the historic 150-year-old Buckhead church Sunday after Sunday.
Her great-grandparents went there. So did her grandmother and her father, who once attended the church school that ran from first through seventh grade.
“I think there are still people in Atlanta that desire a family feel when they come to church,” said Few, the founder and executive producer of the NFL Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. “Here, if you come for a while and then stop coming, people will call you and see if you’re OK or bring you a meal. It’s the love that is shown on a personal level.”
That extends to the Richards, who regularly checks on members.