An 11-year-old boy in the US has been ordained as a minister in his family’s church, and also preaches at a number of local churches. He is the latest in a long history of American child preachers – so what is the appeal?
Ezekiel Stoddard’s head pops up only just above the lectern as he stands to deliver his sermon.
He turns the pages of his notes with a flick of the hand and a flourish, and speaks quickly and insistently, punctuating his words with a regular “Amen” or “Hallelujah”, as he hops from verse to verse.
He’s 11 years old, but dressed like a gentleman.
“Are you ready?” he says a few minutes in, looking up at the crowd of eager faces. “I said ‘Are you ready?'”
He repeats the question five times, before booming: “Are you ready for the resurrection of Christ?”
And with that his whirlwind of a sermon is over.
But the show goes on. Ezekiel moves over to join his older sister Corrine, 15, and brothers Hezekiah, 13, and Micah, seven, who – together with 10-year-old Jasmine – form the gospel group, God’s Blessings, No Chains Holding Me Down.
Standing in line, in order of height, they sing, swing, and click their fingers.
It’s fun, catchy, foot-tapping stuff, and the congregation at Christ Centered Missionary Baptist Church, in the east of Washington, DC, sway and clap to the beat.
Ezekiel is the frontman and, from time to time, breaks into a little rap.
Then the blessings begin.
One by one, members of the congregation – anything up to seven times Ezekiel’s age – bend down to his height, and whisper into his ear. Ezekiel commands the devil to leave, or calls for healing.
One woman hunches down and begins to sob for a few minutes, before clenching her fist and summoning the strength to get back up.
“He’s a remarkable young man,” says Rev Hercules S Jones, who invited Ezekiel to his church to preach. “When he delivers the gospel, it’s inspiring.”
Written By: Cordelia Hebblethwaitecontinue to source article at bbc.co.uk