Al Green: 40 years at Full Gospel Tabernacle

The Rev. Al Green preaching at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, TN. Photo by Steve Beard

By Bob Mehl, Commercial Appeal

Al Green talks to God.

That’s not meant as metaphor or a figure of speech. Al Green literally talks to God. He banters, chatters, laughs, argues, questions, sings to and speaks with the Almighty on a regular basis — whether lying in bed, driving his car, sitting in his office or preaching in the pulpit. It’s a running conversation that began in the early 1970s, and has continued unabated for the past five decades.

“I’m talking all the time, back and forth, talking all the time, back and forth,” says Green, the pastor of Memphis’ Full Gospel Tabernacle church and one of the most famous soul singers in the world.

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Green has not been in the studio proper in the eight years since. But week after week (most of them, anyway) he can be found leading services at his Full Gospel Tabernacle. The church’s congregation is spirited, if relatively small — but it swells with the tourist season, as fans and curious visitors come from all over to see Green preach and sing.

He doesn’t view these people as interlopers, but rather as pilgrims. “You might have come on your vacation — we get a lot of that,” says Green. “Well, we say while you’re here, why don’t we do a little bit of ‘Amazing Grace.’ It may help you along your way. I don’t take it as anything else but an opportunity. If God gives me this audience, I’ll preach the Word to them.”

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