Members of Washington, D.C.'s World Missions for Christ Church stand outside of their red-and-white brick storefront church at the corner of 1st and Randolph, less than a mile from the White House. Some pray aloud. Others talk about salvation to the drug addicts and homeless people passing by. One man sings and preaches, using a battery-operated megaphone.

A tall, striking woman with blond hair and skin the color of rich, dark chocolate asks a lifeworn elderly man if he'd like to accept Christ as his Savior. "I want to accept Jesus," he responds slowly, "to help me to help myself."

Let the Church Say Amen, which airs tonight on PBS' Emmy-winning Independent Lens documentary series (check here for information and local listings), tells the stories of four church members whose faith gives them the strength to improve their lives. In this inner-city neighborhood, faith and community are not mere buzzwords or references to abstract realities. They are the two most immediate and powerful sources of survival, hope and social advancement in a community failed by Democrats, Republicans and the police force.

The documentary follows a year in the lives of Darlene Duncan, a mother of eight who trains to become a nursing assistant, so she can get off public assistance; David Surles, who lives and works in a homeless shelter as he rebuilds the life and relationships he lost to alcohol abuse; and Ceodtis Fulmore, or Brother C, an evangelist and singer who wants to record a gospel CD as a form of outreach to the neighborhood.

The fourth main subject is their pastor, Bobby Perkins, himself a former drug addict, who serves as friend and encourager throughout the film. He checks in with Duncan about her first day in school, encourages Surles ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.