Yet another story of the toxic and dangerous culture of the Brooklyn Tabernacle.
“In Brooklyn there was a church with a 300-voice world famous choir. It was mesmerizing to watch. In my old church you weren’t even allowed to raise your hands. But this choir moved, like a wind was blowing through it. I’d stand up front every Sunday and move right along with it. One week they announced that the choir would be holding auditions. I knew I could carry a tune, so I signed up for a slot. The auditions were in the office of the pastor’s wife. We made small talk before we began. She had family in Arkansas, so she asked me why I left. I told her my story, and then I sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ I had a heavy cold that day, but Amazing Grace has this way of coming through. And when I finished, she said: ‘Detra, you passed.’ I could feel my soul begin to stretch. Those words were like an invitation to me– to finally worship freely. But before I could officially join the choir, the pastor’s wife told me I needed to meet with a ‘church counselor.’ It ended up being her son. He asked how I could stand before the throne of God, having run away from a pastor husband. Then he asked for my husband’s phone number. I think I made it downstairs before I started sobbing. At the time I was applying for a job at Starbucks, and they needed me to work Sundays. I’d only missed church twice growing up: once when I had the measles, and once when I had the mumps. But I said: ‘God, use this job to let me know if you want me to keep going to church.’ On the night I was hired Lucas and Margaret cooked me a celebratory dinner. They brought out a bottle of red wine and poured me a glass. It wasn’t the first time they’d offered me wine, but it was the first time I had something to celebrate. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I knew it would be crossing a line in the sand. Lucas saw me staring down at my glass, and said: ‘Don’t worry Mom, you don’t have to do it.’ But I wanted to do it. The name of the wine was Cannonball. On the label it showed a child. She was flying through the air, with her knees pulled to her chest, about to leap into something entirely new. I took my first sip, and oh my Goodness. It was the worst thing I’d ever tasted. So I took another. And another.”