New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church at 4301 W. Washington Blvd. is one the West Side’s more progressive and innovative places of worship. Each day of the week the church is open for various activities and the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Marshall Hatch, welcomes the community to come and participate with them.

One of Hatch’s innovative ideas was to install two jumbo movie screens that not only are used during ministry services but for screening movies once a month for youths.

“We have movie night once a month; we have screens upstairs and downstairs,” Hatch says. “It is kind of like a church cinema in the community. It gives the kids something to do, and they actually are the ones who work the system. Everybody that works our tech stuff are the young people who know how to do it. We got basically high school and college students who work our audio-visuals.”

Austin Weekly News recently had a chance to talk with Hatch about his meetings with embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and about Roland Burris’ appointment as senator to replace Barack Obama, who will be sworn in as president next week.

For the last couple of weeks you have been on TV along with Rev. Ira Acree regarding your visit to Gov. Blagojevich’s home. Did the governor invite you, or is this something you all decided to do?

The governor invited us. Rev. Acree had talked to the governor, and I had talked to him the day before, and we were both very concerned particularly about his 10 year old who was having difficulty handling all the press outside the house and going to school.

So we offered to go and pray with the governor and his family, and that is what we did. We prayed with the two girls, Patti and the governor at his home.

How do you think this entire media story has been handled?

Well, it has been the most unusual that I have ever seen. There is a lot a tension in Illinois, probably because of Barack. I think that it remains to be seen what kind of case that the federal prosecutor has and also when the impeachment trial begins in the [Illinois] Senate. I suppose all of that evidence will be made public.”

What do you think about Roland Burris’ appointment to the U.S. Senate?

I think he should be seated. We supported him. I talked with people across the country and in the city. The only people who suggested it doesn’t matter whether or not you have at least one African-American senator are not African-American.

He should be seated. It is a legal appointment; his career has been stellar over four decades. It is the right thing to do. In fact, we met with [Illinois Secretary of State] Jesse White the other day as well, and he thinks he is doing the right thing, but the Supreme Court has ruled that he doesn’t really have to sign, which means that Roland really should be seated.”

New Mount Pilgrim is on CAN-TV (Channel 36) every Saturday at 8 a.m. The church also has a media and book center open on Wednesdays and Sundays. During the month of February, the New Mount Pilgrim Ministry will hold development seminars, and classes will be held in the Clarence Hubbert Conference Room at the church.

For more information about the church and its activities contact the secretary Sister Bender 773-287-5051.