SPREADING THE GOSPEL OFFSTAGE
WHEN MARVIN WINANS, 35, IS NOT making music with his brothers, he ministers to an inner-city congregation in Greenfield, Minn., a suburb of his hometown, Detroit. “I founded the Perfecting Church four years ago with eight people, four of whom I personally fed and clothed,” he says. “Now we have 2,000 members and three choirs: one that you have to audition for—that one records; another for young people; and the Joyful Noise choir, which is for anybody who wants to scream.”
The reverend—who recently officiated at Whitney Houston’s marriage to Bobby Brown—is far more than a glorified choir director at the church. He also presides over such programs as Perfecting Outreach for former alcohol and drug offenders; Perfecting Care, which acts as a warming station for the homeless and helps them find housing; and the Perfecting Community Developing Corporation, to help find jobs for the congregation’s youth. In addition to financing the church, the brothers also used their earnings recently to convert a dilapidated gym into a community center.
Winans, who has two teenage sons, Mario and Marvin Jr., with his wife, Vickie, notes that his offstage life can be even more rewarding than his musical one. “Because most of our parishioners are between 18 and 25, what I do there is very hands-on,” he explains. “And what we see keeps our songs relevant to the limes. We don’t just sing at our church. We help, hold hands and cry with our congregation. We deal with everything between life and death.” And, for that matter, beyond.