HI! My name is Taria...and I am a member of Empowerment Temple Church and Jamal Bryant is my Pastor...

Hi! My name is Taria…and I am a member of Empowerment Temple Church and Jamal Bryant is my Pastor…

WOW! It feels like forever since I sat down at my computer and put into words the thoughts that have been stampeding through my head. My thoughts, my opinions, my questions, about the headlines and stories we have read all over Social Media…namely the ones about the church. And quite honestly I have been feeling frustrated because I felt like I was stuck; stuck between a rock and a hard place called transparency. Real, raw, uncut, no holds barred transparency. The type of transparency the church folks “talk” about. And so I have gone around and around in my head, trying to figure out how to create words that tell a true story while at the same time carrying a certain level of anonymity and censorship to them…And I have been asking GOD to come on and just give me the “proper words”, for what I wanted to say…But he had already given them to me…I was just trying to water them down. But no more…

I am a member of Empowerment Temple AME church in Baltimore, MD and my pastor is Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant. YES… I am a member of THAT church, and before some of you wrinkle your nose or furrow your brow any further (that causes wrinkles…and quite possibly the need for botox) let me remind you that while my membership is with Empowerment Temple, I am APART of the body of Christ…And the two are not mutually exclusive as some may think. And I know that there are some that do think the two are, considering the numerous articles and social media posts/comments in reference to Pastor Bryant…and his congregation. As I started seeing more and more posts and reposts and articles being published about Pastor Bryant, I was taken aback to see the ease and comfortability at which fellow clergymen, fellow prayer warriors, fellow intercessors, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, could use the same lips that we use to offer up worship to our GOD, now use those same lips to remind everyone that we need to do better and this pastor is the reason why. I was taken aback to see the same hands that we lift in surrender to worship our GOD, are the same hands that glide recklessly across a loaded keyboard attached to a desktop, MacPro, Android or Iphone waiting for the right time to pull the trigger and propel the “holding him accountable” bullets into a body that has already been ridden with bullets…Multiple times… And some may say, “Well he did it to himself… He shot himself.” And they would be right… But I don’t want my fingerprints on that gun….anymore…

There was a time before, not that long ago, that I was a sharp shooter, my mouth the smoking gun. And I felt like I had every right to speak what I felt, what I saw to be wrong and what could be done to fix it. I spoke about MY personal experiences with other church folks…and I felt like I COULD speak on it, because they were MY experiences! Simple right?! Nope! Not simple… And I thank GOD that he used my husband to shift my perspective and to really take a deeper look into myself and to recognize that without meaning to, my words were doing more harm then good, to the body…not my body… But the church body…

I had become frustrated with certain things and I was venting them to my husband and close friends…repeatedly, whenever these issues came up in conversation, even when I wasn’t the one to initially bring it up. Then one night when my frustration level was at an all time high and I’m saying, “Isn’t GOD going to DO something??? Is he going to continue to let certain things take place in his house???” And my husband said to me, “If you are so upset and disgusted, why are we still attending church? Why are we going and then talking about the issues?” And he basically told me in so many words, I needed to be praying…And of course I wanted to run back down everything that we had experienced personally at church, not to mention what was going on in the media, and list them as the reasons why I had a RIGHT to feel the way that I did. And I wanted to say, “and why are you not as upset as me???” BUT I didn’t…because his words really pierced my insides…and I felt ashamed. Ashamed at the way I had allowed what I SAW and EXPERIENCED, to have an affect on what I said, on what I spoke. And to who I spoke those things to. Those that know me, know how I am about words. I was raised in a Christian home and was taught early on by my parents that the power of death and life are in the tongue (Proverbs 18 vs.21 KJV). So although I had every right to FEEL the way I did, what I didn’t have was the right to speak vacuous words and I knew better… Matthew 12 vs. 36  NIV tells me, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”  And again…I knew better…

That was a sobering moment for me…sobering because I realized that I am supposed to be a reflection of Christ..to the world. I am supposed to be a light that sits on a hill, but my actions were like the worlds’ in a valley. Now please understand that I am in NO WAY defending or okaying or pacifying any actions or behaviors that are contradictory to GODs word, whether they are done by my pastor or any other pastor. I firmly believe that there ought to be sanctions and repercussions and accountability to be had by Pastors, Elders and anyone who holds a positon of leadership in the church, who continually commits grievous sins. 1st Timothy 3 v. 2 tells us that an “overseer should be above reproach…” And I know that there comes a time when a rebuke/reproach is necessary…1st Timothy 5 vs. 20 tells us, “But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.” And I had to ask myself,  how can this be done if I am not praying in earnest for my fallen brother or sister? How can I quote scripture in self righteous indignation concerning the actions of leadership and as a reminder of where they are falling short, and yet not follow the steps that scripture says we should be taking when it comes to a leader that has fallen?  How am I conducting and carrying myself in the midst of what is going on? Are my words and actions still pleasing to GOD while demonstrating his Grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  Am I praying and fasting not just for my church home but for the body as a whole? Am I petitioning the heavens on behalf of leadership across the nations, going into warfare so that strongholds can be broken because “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood…” (Ephesians 6 vs. 12 KJVAnd how effective can we as a body be if our form of “reproach” is using various social media sites to call someone out, that 9 times out of 10 doesn’t follow you and will never see it anyway. Not to mention, everyone that follows us on these social media sites are not believers. What are we showing them? How are we reflecting the love of the GOD we claim to serve if our cyber conversations lack grace and are not seasoned with salt? How can we truly unite as a body if our words are inciting division amongst each other?  We should know a house divided against itself cannot stand. How can I pray for a shifting in the spirit, how can my prayers be effective for the body if I continue to attend a place of worship with a less then pleasing attitude and a stiff neck, making it difficult to hear GOD and ultimately difficult for him to hear me?

“…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12 vs. 48 KJV) Leaders of the church do need to understand that as your sheep, we are counting on you to honor the position that GOD placed you in and to truly respect and not pervert the influence you have over your congregants life. And at the same time, I know that even in the positon of leadership, you are also my brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is my responsibility as a child of GOD to pray for you, not post about you. To go to spiritual warfare on your behalf while not ignoring the need for  natural consequences. And I realize that change can only come with Holy Spirit conviction, not unholy conversation, whether it be in the company of friends or in the privacy of my home.

Please pray for me as I pray for you

Thank you for reading!

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

Galatians 6 vs. 1 NIV