From Publishers Weekly
With the scope and grace of a master storyteller, Freedman ( Small Victories ) offers an indelible portrait of a New York City institution: St. Paul Community Baptist Church, an oasis in a blighted section of Brooklyn, led by the dynamic Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood. Granted unrestricted access to Youngblood and his self-described "church unusual," Freedman writes movingly of struggles and dramas: the twice-reformed drug addict who leads the "Wounded Healers" support group and who has taken an African name, Osei, meaning "Serious"; the indomitable grandmother who gives shelter to cast-off children; the sole white congregant, whose sense of mission grows deeper over time. Freedman writes almost cinematically when he describes the church services and, in one chapter, intercuts two sensitive stories: a marriage counseling session and an internal church investigation of child abuse. Freedman also writes thoughtfully about Youngblood's theology, the church's history and its prominent political role in New York, building nearly 2300 one-family homes in a project known as Nehemiah. Youngblood, little known outside Brooklyn, is an intriguing character who has traveled--geographically, philosophically and theologically. He has a vision for his church and community, yet has his own crosses to bear. Freedman captures the minister's touching reconciliations with his son born out of wedlock and with his own long-estranged father. If there is a quibble, it is that the white author, who gets so close to his black subjects, himself remains an enigma. Nonetheless, this stunning book has much to say about religion and race, cities and change, community and faith. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; BOMC alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The Saint Paul Community Baptist Church of East New York shines like a beacon of hope within a Brooklyn urban wasteland. Its fervent, charismatic pastor, the Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood, fights against complacency, bureaucratic inertia, racism, and despair every waking hour. Freedman presents a moving, intimate, and ennobling portrait of Youngblood and representative members of his flock with all the eloquent passion of one of the young pastor's sermons. Positive male parental role models and creative self-help serve as keystones of the church's success. The author's Small Victories ( LJ 5/1/90) provided a similar portrayal of an urban high school teacher. Highly recommended for all but the squeamish or the faint of heart.- Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.