On a day when it seemed there would be no glimpse of sunshine, Pastor Marvin and First Lady Malinda Sapp, along with the Lighthouse Full Life Center church family, provided a ray of light for members of their inner-city Grand Rapids community.

On Monday, August 28, 2006, Pastor Sapp hosted his annual Back to school rally for families of the Grand Rapids, MI community. Grand Rapids, which is about two hours west of Detroit, is the hometown of Pastor Sapp and the city in which he pastors the Lighthouse Full Life Center Church. Sapp, a former member of the Detroit-based pioneer gospel group Commissioned, and an award winning gospel music solo artist, has been holding this event in the city for the past twelve years. Every year kids from grades K-12 flood Martin Luther King Park where Sapp provides them with all the necessities one would need to start the school year! Members of Lighthouse Full Life Center were there to greet families with warm smiles.

Members of Pastor Sapp’s Lighthouse Full Life Center Church prepare and distribute backpacks fillied with school supplies for students. 

As rain filled the park, attendees were directed to Lighthouse church where Sapp and his staff smoothly transitioned things. Backpacks filled with dictionaries, notebooks, folders, and countless other school supplies were provided to about 700 elementary and high school students within the community. Normally kids have the option of haircuts being provided, however once the festivities were moved to the church, the haircuts had to be eliminated this year. Nonetheless, children were more then satisfied and appreciative of Sapp and his ministry’s efforts to provide for the community.

Grand Rapids Public School Board President Pastor Kenneth Hoskins (Left) and Grand Rapids Public Schools Superidendant Dr. Bernard Taylor (Right) show up to lend support to Pastor Marvin & Lady Malinda Sapp at their 2006 Back 2 school rally

Also on hand to support were members from the Grand Rapids Public School system. Newly elected superintendent, Dr. Bernard Taylor, was there and gave words of encouragement to families in attendance. One other representative from the GRPS was Pastor Kenneth Hoskins, president of the school board. Pastor Hoskins expressed sincere support of Pastor and First Lady Sapp.

Michael Essex & Vision

Now of course Pastor Sapp had to conclude the event in signature fashion, and what better way to do that than with some serious Sanging!!! To solidify the event Sapp called on some of his close friends, The Singletons from Lansing, Michigan; and Minister Jonathan Dunn & Faith Ministries of Springfield, Ohio.

Kicking off the concert, however, was Michael Essex & Vision, a hip new group with an edgy style. Their song “Will of God” drew me in. As the band kicked, heads nodded and feet tapped to their unique sound. Look out for this group! In early September the group will be traveling to Ohio to compete on TBN’s talent competition. “Good Luck Guys!”

Also opening was the Lighthouse Full Life Center choir giving an uplifting performance of the Mary-Mary hit “Heaven,” which featured Pastor Sapp’s daughter, Madisson Sapp, providing lead vocals. All I have to say is watch out Pastor Sapp! Also I have to mention the Lighthouse dance team, Youth in Motion, who danced to Ty Tribbett’s “I Want It All Back.” WHOA! Believe me when I tell you that these young people were hot! Trust me, they killed it! Shout out to yawl!

The Singletons

Pastor Sapp hit the stage to introduce The Singletons, who had a brief stint as background singers for Sapp before joining up with his former Commissioned partner Fred Hammond. They released their debut CD, “Pour Out Your Holy Spirit” in 2002, on Hammond’s fHammond label. As Sapp expressed how proud he was of the group, The Singletons joined him on stage. The all-family group opened with a beautiful version of the “Lord’s Prayer” which left my mouth hanging wide open! WOW! The Singletons then ripped through “Dance,” “So Glad,” and “Give Him Praise,” all taken from their latest effort, “Better Than That.” The group closed their set with the title cut, “Better Than That,” which had people of all ages in the aisles dancing! It became obvious this song was a favorite to both Pastor Sapp and Lady Malinda as they both mouthed the words and even attempted to catch the step that most young people were doing. Don’t feel bad Pastor I was lost on the step too! I even noticed the new superintendent of schools and the president of the school board trying to cut a rug. Watch out yawl!

Minister Jonathan Dunn & Faith Ministries

Closing out the evening was Minister Jonathan Dunn & Faith Ministries who hails from the Springfield, Ohio area. An awesome and anointed songwriter, Jonathan Dunn (or “JD” as Pastor Sapp refers to him) has written some of Pastor Sapp’s most memorable songs including “Standing On The Rock” and “It’s Your Time For Your Miracle.” JD took the stage starting with a Bobby McFerrin type acapella tune at the request of Pastor Sapp. JD has a voice and tone that is unmatched, and as he performed his song “Oil of The Lord,” it became apparent that we were on the verge of incredible praise & worship. JD ministered to all in attendance explaining the power and anointing behind the lyrics of the song. Included was his testimony on how a deaf woman was made to hear only during the playing of this particular song. It was evident, as we all experienced true and sincere worship, JD and Faith Ministries served as perfect minstrels. “Be Exalted,” a song recorded by Sapp also served as the title cut from his last CD. Min. Jonathan Dunn, wrote the song, however, and he made that fact obvious as he raised the level of worship & ushered in the Holy Spirit. JD and company were backed by a full band and featuring new comer Tonya Baker, who is sure to be a major force in the industry. Take my word for it, her voice gave me goose bumps. Jonathan Dunn & Faith Ministries gave a soul stirring performance to close out a beautiful event!

Pastor Marvin Sapp

The city of Grand Rapids, MI definitely appreciates the vision of Pastor Marvin & Lady Malinda Sapp. Thanks also to the entire Lighthouse Full Life Center family for being so kind and hospitable.

The next time any of you are in the Grand Rapids area, I URGE you to pay a visit to the Lighthouse Full Life Center Church under the direction of Pastor Marvin Sapp. For information on upcoming events, service times, and directions to the church call 616 241 5448.