It is now 1986, and the preachers of the Gospel United Church are preparing for their much-anticipated Triennial General Conference. The last time readers encountered the good Rev. Theophilus Simmons, he was a newlywed and the pastor of a modest-sized congregation in Memphis. Now he's the father of three and running a congregation in St. Louis. His best friend, Rev. Eddie Tate, is now with a fast growing church in Chicago, but he is getting real frustrated with the way things are run in the Gospel United Church. Marcel Brown and his father, Ernest, along with Sonny Washington and Bishop Larsen Giles have had two decades to perfect their slimy methods of "tapping" church funds and other misdeeds. Now they've found a secret weapon that will allow them to make fast money and accomplish what they failed to do 20 years ago--buy off enough power to dominate the entire denomination, put their cronies in key spots, and ransack the church like it is the spoils of war. It won't be long before the two opposing sides face off..."church-folk" style.
Michele Andrea Bowen graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an M.A. in History and a M.P.H. in Public Health. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Michele is the author of the #1 Essence bestsellers Church Folk and Second Sunday.
If you crossed Eddie Murphy with the Lutherans of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, you'd get something very like Bowen's Gospel United Church. As another triennial conference rolls around in 1986, the characters of Church Folk are 23 years older, but not all of them are wiser. An election for church bishops promises politicking, corruption, and plenty of well-dressed people. The principal plot complication is a druglike concoction that is both addictive and aphrodisiac, giving the forces of corruption some entrepreneurial ideas. Bowen's got a good eye and a better ear, though it's a little hard to keep all the characters straight, since there's a mess of good guys, bad guys, and assorted wives, sons, and neighbors. Some conservative Christians may find it a bit too raunchy, but even some of those readers will find themselves laughing out loud at certain bits. Underneath it all are acute observations about African-American history and community. Readers who went to church with Bowen before will be delighted to return, and her choir should get bigger. (July) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.