‘On a mission from God,’ St. Peter’s teaches Christ using soul music

The Rev. Patrick Sanders of St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church said he was looking for another way to share the message of Holy Week — the week in the Christian church that represents the betrayal and, ultimately, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He said he found his divine inspiration in the same fashion as the fictional characters Jake and Elwood Blues.

“I started thinking about what I wanted to do and it hit me — just like in the movie ‘The Blues Brothers,’ I knew I was a mission from God,” he said.

Sanders, along with St. Peter’s music director JT Anglin and harmonica player Lloyd Munn, will be delivering a special service at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday as St. Peter’s will host its People Get Ready: A Soul Mass, which will be a traditional Eucharist that features some soul songs from the 1960s and ’70s. The songs include Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” the Curtis Mayfield classic “People Get Ready, ‘Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

“We wanted to do something that really focused on Holy Week,” Sanders said. “We did a Brian Wilson Mass last year and we had a great turnout — but, a lot of it was about people wanting to pass beach balls in church.”

He said he wanted a different feel for Holy Week, so he looked to some of the soul hits from the 1960s and ’70s.

“These songs have a very heavy message — and it’s things that can relate to what was happening with Christ on Maundy Thursday and when he was betrayed by Judas and then killed,” Sanders said. “Take Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come,’ you can definitely relate to Christ and what he was going through by the lyrics of the song.”

Anglin said the songs were recorded during a politically tumultuous time, a time that he said is reflective of the modern political climate.

“The country is very divided right now,” he said. “These songs came from a time when there was a lot of suffering and strife.”

Sanders said it’s easy to find a spiritual message in secular music.

“I saw Brian Wilson recently and everyone had their favorite song they were wanting to hear, but it was ‘God Only Knows’ that brought everyone together and made everyone cry,” he said. “You can find the same message in ‘People Get Ready.’”


If you go

People Get Ready: A Soul Mass

St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Gulfport

5:30 p.m. Wednesday