Bishop Noel Jones: I Wanted the People to Know God Had Not Abandoned Them
Many churches have difficulties because of poor administrative management, but what happened at the Tabernacle of Praise in Lake Charles was something different. The minister was gunned down at the pulpit. It made me think about how easy it is to get to a preacher. His wife, children, grandchildren and the entire congregation witnessed the murder. This pricked my heart. People often think God has made an exit when a tragedy of this magnitude occurs. I wanted to go show the people God had not abandoned them.
What surprised me is that I never thought that my going to Lake Charles would cause me to be so emotionally vulnerable. I thought I could manage the situation intellectually, without emotional attachment, but somehow the pain they were feeling became a part of my visit. I felt it in a personal way. In fact, I was feeling so much I almost disqualified myself from being able to operate and help out rationally, to give the people a sense of balance. They did not need to see me crying and broken apart but I couldn’t help it. The circumstances were just so horrendous.
When I first met Lady Harris she projected an attitude on the surface that was not very deep, considering her husband was lost so suddenly and brutally. I thought she was trying to be strong, but she was also covering great pain, and I knew her ability to administrate without having any healing would be catastrophic for her and for the congregation.
In a way, this crescendo in terms of the preacher dying was the crowning moment of the church’s deterioration. We found out there was a lot going on leading up to this. I wanted to make it clear to Lady Harris that we’re going to have to have new leadership and regain the confidence of the people — and she agreed, in the moment, to do whatever it would take. But right now the church is in turmoil. It’s in a tough situation financially, and also Lady Harris doesn’t want to relinquish control. I’m hoping, for everyone, we can save the church.
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