Stunned. Confused. Disgusted. Fearful. Angry. Yes, all these emotions I felt at once—all which had consumed me within seconds. Unable to close my mouth from the shock, I attempted to ask a few questions, but was speechless. What I wanted to voice only played out in my head. Did she just say . . . Did she just confess to . . . Did I hear her ask for forgiveness for . . . I closed my eyes tightly to block out the chaos around me. I had to attempt to make sense of this madness. I needed to replay it all to determine if I had actually heard what I thought I heard.
Pause. Rewind. Replay. Here I was sitting in New Year's Eve church service, waiting excitedly to ring in the year 2009 with my husband, Alonzo, my son, Isaiah, favorite cousin, London , my best friend, Riah, their husbands and my loving church family. Our church, Spirit of Truth Ministries, always had the best Watch Night services. I always felt compelled to bring in the New Year with God, and this year was no different. However, something just went terribly wrong.
As usual, the choir sang to the glory of the Lord, there were multiple testimonies through the service, in which people sang hymns, praised God for all He'd done to sustain them throughout the year, and what was supposed to happen next was a the sermon from our Pastor. But, someone had other plans.
Just before Pastor Steele could enter the pulpit to deliver his New Year's sermon, a young woman stood and asked if she could give her testimony. Of course, the theory in the black church is there's always time for one more person to speak, even when there really isn't. With the organist playing a soft rendition of “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” the congregation watched as this beautiful, tall, slim, middle-aged woman with long, curly, mixed-gray hair approached the microphone.
“Praise the Lord.” She spoke in a sullen tone. “I'd like to give all praise and honor to our Lord and Savior for keeping me. He's been better to me than I've been to myself, and I just want to thank him for His Grace and His mercy.” The woman crossed her arms in front of her chest and rubbed her arms as if she were freezing cold. When she spoke this time, her voice trembled. “See, church, I'm a sinner. I found myself deep in sin that I had never envisioned. However, I was at such a low point in my life, I was vulnerable to any and everything that came my way.” She paused. “I'm not making excuses for my behavior because I know right from wrong, but I have asked God to forgive me, and I am standing before you today to ask that you forgive me as well.”
I looked over at Alonzo, bewildered, then at London who shared the same look. What in the world was this lady talking about? Who is she? Why would she be asking us as a church to forgive her? Why would she need forgiveness from a bunch of strangers? This whole scene was a bit bizarre.
“Church, I...I ask that you forgive me for having a sexual affair with your pastor,” she cried.
An array of noises flooded the sanctuary at once. I heard gasps and squeals and screams and cries of pain. But the woman continued to talk over the ruckus.
“You're a liar,” bellowed one of the ushers bellowed from the back of the church. “And a harlot!”
The woman's demeanor instantly changed after hearing words in defense of Pastor Steele. Initially, she seemed to be begging for forgiveness. Now, it was apparent she was fuming—so much so that she turned her testimony into a mission to air out all of our pastor's dirty laundry.
“I am not a liar!” she defended herself.
With her neck rolling from side to side, she exclaimed, “I'm so sorry to tell you all, but your pastor is a fraud. Before you go into the New Year, listening to this man spew the Gospel, which he doesn't live by, I had to let you know the truth. For the past year, I've traveled with this man out of town to all his preaching engagements. When he's not traveling and not at the church, he's with me, at my house, in my bed and lying to his wife about being at the church.”
This woman was on a seething rampage now. Being called a liar fueled her fire. I was horrified as I continued to listen to this trollop's rant.
“I've had every kind of sex that you could ever imagine with this so-called man of God. Ask the good reverend about our foreplay and masturbation sessions and how he likes fingering me and putting his fist my vagina.”
There was instant wheezing and gasping throughout the sanctuary. Was this woman really standing in front of the church body talking about her vagina? Really? But her rant wasn't done with her illicit sex talk.
“Ask him if I'm lying about missionary sex, oral sex, anal sex, raw sex, yes, unprotected sex, and his pleas to have me involved in a threesome. Question your sex-crazed pastor about that strap-on he purchased and liked for me to use…”
The Jezebel's “testimony” time had ended. Two of our bodybuilder-like deacons came rushing to the front of the church to end this woman's tirade. They lifted her from her feet and proceed to remove her from the sanctuary. She kicked and screamed as she was carried out. “Get your hands off of me,” she pleaded while punching one of the deacons repeatedly. “You can't stop me from telling to truth. I have proof—lots of proof. I have ticket stubs. I have receipts. I have voicemail messages. I have videotapes. You all will see. You'll see. I am not a fraud. Pastor Wesley Steele is the liar, and may God strike him dead for what he's done to me.”
Finally. The deacons were successful in their quest to remove the lady from the sanctuary, but all was not well. She had created utter chaos within our church home. I looked over at First Lady Steele, the pastor's wife, who was surrounded by several members of the church. She looked as if she was having a panic attack. My heart immediately ached for her. No one should ever endure such public humiliation.
My eyes searched the pulpit for Pastor Steele. He was not there. His delayed entry into the sanctuary after the testimony portion of the service was over, had been in his favor. He never witnessed any of the madness.
After trying to digest all that happened, I sat numb. I couldn't fathom any of that being true about my pastor. That kind of stuff happened in other churches, with other church leaders but not my church. I just wanted Pastor Steele to come into the pulpit, denounce the vicious accusations and bring forth the Word of the Lord for the New Year. I was definitely ready to leave the drama in 2008.
With the church still in an uproar, I gathered that most people were in support of Pastor Steele. However, my husband, Alonzo, believed every word that came out of that tramp's mouth.
“Jaime, let's go home,” he whispered in my ear for the tenth time. He was visibly disconcerted by the foolishness we just witnessed. I begged him to allow us to stay, to see how things would play out.
“OK, Jaime, but only a few minutes more,” he reluctantly agreed.
“Spirit of Truth family, may I have your attention please?” Minister Western asked. He was one of Pastor Steele's best friends in the ministry. The devil is busy, but he's also a liar, and as a family, we will not let lies and fabricated stories disrupt our church home or our Watch Night service. Now, Pastor Steele is undoubtedly upset by these allegations and wants to spend some time with his wife and family to discuss this matter privately. However, we came here to praise God for 2008 and thank him for blessing us to see 2009! Please bow your heads with me while I pray a special prayer of our pastor, his family, and for our church family. Let us pray.”
I couldn't pray. I wanted to, but couldn't. I was quite perturbed that Pastor Steele sent Minister Western to speak on his behalf. Why couldn't he come out and address us directly. Of course, I understood being upset. Hell, we all were, but as the leader of Sprit of Truth, he had an obligation to say something.
With my head bowed, my eyes wide open, my right leg shaking, I had many thoughts running through my mind about this entire situation. I couldn't get the woman's words out of my head about Pastor Steele and his various sex positions. Who wants to hear that about their pastor? Gross. Could any of this be true? Did my pastor really have an affair with this floozy? I had planned to reserve judgment until I knew all the facts. I truly hoped this was the work of Satan and not God exposing a wolf in sheep's clothing.
I sincerely hoped that with the new year only thirty minutes away, the events and drama that took place at church were not a forewarning as to what I was to expect in the coming year.
Copyright © 2011 by Latrese N. Carter