Yesterday, Today, & FOREVER The King of Pop

The Gospel According To Michael Jackson / Sacramento Church Service Turns To Michael Jackson’s Music

Kenny Lopez  November 29, 2009  SACRAMENTO


You’d expect to hear Michael Jackson’s hits, "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" at a night club…but not at a church.

One local pastor is using Jackson’s music to get an important message across to spread the faith.

The late King of Pop, Michael Jackson wrote songs about peace,
salvation, and hope…all themes from an International star that one
local pastor believes we can all learn from.

"He had a power that people hadn’t seen before."

Pastor Ron Vanderwell from "The Gathering" Christian Church is teaching "The Gospel According to Michael Jackson".

To get the crowd at the Natomas Marketplace Theatre going, Pastor Ron
showed off some of the Late Pop Star’s signature moves, but all jokes
aside, there was a serious message he wanted to get across using
Jackson’s tunes.

He says the hit song, "Beat It" teaches racial reconciliation.

"The combination of peace and defiance is a neat way to see combined together."

And songs like, "I’ll be there" teach inspirational lessons of love and commitment

"A desire to pour yourself out for someone else and the way he’s able
to do that. It shows a lasting connection with someone that won’t flake
out on you."

Churchgoers say "Amen" to the messages taught here today.

"I can finally relate. It’s not just some old dude talking. I can’t
relate to that, but I can relate to Michael Jackson’s music," Stuart
Canton says.

Churchgoer, Dorothy Wollan says, "We have so many pop artists. I’m sure
they have a lot to offer the public and there’s always a deeper layer
and we need to look for that."

Getting people to think about the deeper meanings through Pop music is exactly what Rev. Ron is aiming for.

He says, "The sense of redemption, the sense of love and peace are all things that Michael Jackson helped us hope for."

Next Sunday will be "The Gospel According to U2" and then the following
week, The Gathering will offer lessons from Heavy Metal Band
Metallica’s jams.



Sacramento church service turns to Michael Jackson’s music
By Jennifer Garza
Published: Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 3B

The Rev. Ron Vanderwell preaches about salvation. Michael Jackson sang about it.

This weekend, the Sacramento pastor will turn to the work of the late pop star, who once sang "we must bring salvation back," to help him
deliver his Sunday message.

Vanderwell will feature Jackson’s words, music and videos during the 90-minute worship service at his church, The Gathering.

"We’ll show how his songs have the hope the Bible offers," the pastor said.

Vanderwell believes the service, which he is calling "The Gospel
According to Michael Jackson," is a unique way to reach his

The 10 a.m. service – the church meets at the Regal Cinemas in the Natomas Marketplace in Sacramento – is open to the public.

Vanderwell enjoys all kinds of music, including Jackson’s. "One of many
styles I liked," he said. And he was moved by the outpouring of
affection for Jackson after he died June 25.

"He sang about love and justice and relationships, and this connected with people," the pastor said.

Vanderwell and other church officials later planned a four-week series
of sermons based on pop music and wanted to include Jackson.

The first in the series, "The Gospel According to the Beatles" last
week, featured a prop of a yellow submarine on stage. Following the
Jackson-themed services will be U2 on Dec. 6 and Metallica on Dec. 13.
The church held its first Metallica series about five years ago. "And
everyone loved it," Vanderwell said.

The pastor said that this nontraditional approach to worship may not
appeal to everyone. But he said that many of the 100 or so regular
attendees appreciate the church’s efforts.

"Many of our members have not had a good church experience in
established churches and are open to new ways to looking for God,"
Vanderwell said.

Sometimes that means looking in the work of artists, he said. The
pastor said church leaders picked certain songs because they had
universal themes.

Some of the Jackson songs they selected are: "Billie Jean," "Beat It"
"Man in the Mirror" and "I’ll Be There," which includes these lyrics:

"You and I must make a pact

We must bring salvation back

Where there is love, I’ll be there."

"His words reflect the ache every one of us has for something better,"
Vanderwell said. He has titled his sermon "Is This It?" a reference to
"This Is It," Jackson’s concert film. He wants to show that Jackson was
a gifted but troubled artist.

The pastor said he will not gloss over the negative aspects of Jackson’s life.

"He wrestled with a lot of demons," Vanderwell said. "I think the point
of the message is that there is more to being whole than having a
sequined glove."

The Sacramento Bee

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