Remembering Annabelle Pomeroy: An Open Letter to First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Pastor Frank Pomeroy & Sherri Pomeroy…

Hello World:

Editor’s Note: Since I learned about the mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas, I’ve struggled about how to address this mass tragedy on this blog. What follows below is my attempt at addressing what is plainly an aberration from God’s perfect will for His people.  

Dear Pastor and Mrs. Frank Pomeroy,

A week ago, this very day, the simply unimaginable become a grotesque reality. Although 26 lives were taken (not lost because I believe those lives can be found in the bosom of Jesus), as a pastor’s daughter, I identify the most with Annabelle, your 14-year-old daughter. From various media reports, she loved your small, humble church and the people in it. Although the two of you adopted her, she was raised by the church, First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 

Although I am way past 14 (add 30 to that number), I remember what it was like to be a 14-year-old pastor daughter’s. Although I have two parents, my small church, Central Christian Church in southwest Atlanta, where I still attend, raised me too. As I grew up, I sometimes hated the extra scrutiny that came with being a pastor’s daughter, but I still reveled in the love lavished on me for that very reason. By the time I was 14, I had entered awkward phase where I wasn’t quite a little girl but not self-possessed enough to be a woman either. And I was teased because of it. My glasses were too big. I hadn’t discovered the most attractive hairstyle for my face yet. I was a bit fluffy. And I often couldn’t think of the cool things to say when more than one person was involved.

But all of that angst and self-consciousness melted away from the warmth of love and acceptance of church members as soon as I entered the church’s doors. The itty-bitty kids whom I towered over although I was short didn’t care that glasses covered my face, they could still see the love in my eyes as I picked them up and spun them in the air or tickled their round bellies. And when that didn’t work, Now & Laters or peppermints or anything sweet worked. The elderly people asked me how I was doing as they hugged me. Their hugs felt like worn soft blankets.  The adults my parents age took a personal interest in my development and gave me leads on new opportunities. One church member helped me to get my first paying job at 14 years old! And the kids my own age and bit older sometimes teased me too, but it was no more than the teasing you would expect in a normal family. When the world outside of the church’s doors depleted me, I could fill up on the love from my church family.

Below are some reflections I’ve come across about your daughter:

  • Annabelle, also known as Belle, loved attending her father’s church, so much so that family members said she would beg to sit in the front row — even when her parents weren’t there.  “Texas Church Shooting: Who Were the Victims of the Sutherland Springs Massacre?” nbcnews.com
  • “She had to give me my hugs,” Rod Green said Thursday. “She was totally sweet, innocent and sweet.” That vision sticks in the mind of Green, a Vietnam veteran who says he never expected to see the kind of carnage in this small town that he saw in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. “Killed in church shooting, pastor’s daughter was ‘totally sweet’” mysanantonio.com
  • “You couldn’t go to Sutherland Springs Baptist Church and not see her,” Debbie Marx said. “She was always helping the Sunday School teacher with the small children.” “Killed in church shooting, pastor’s daughter was ‘totally sweet’”mysanantonio.com.
  • “We will always remember that beautiful smile,” another person said. “These Are The Victims Of The Texas Church Shooting” buzzfeed.com

Now, as the last days of my parents’ ministry at Central Christian Church are being counted down (My father retires at the end of December.), I realize that my small church heritage is the biggest gift he could have ever given me. No material possession could ever match the spiritual riches invested me through the love of this small church. That is why at the head of this blog, I am pictured in the sanctuary of this small church. Everything I’ve become and hope to become can be traced back to what I learned there.  It is my foundation and my springboard. From what I’ve read about Annabelle, she felt the same way.

None of us will live forever in this realm and only God knows how much time we have here, but know that you could have given Annabelle nothing greater than the love she found within the doors of your small, humble church. I have nothing against megachurches or big churches, but there is something special about knowing everyone’s name, seeing them close enough to notice acne or the growth of a new gray hair and feeling compelled to go to everyone’s graduation, wedding and funeral. A beloved deacon that I’ve known since I was six years old passed away earlier this year, and I cannot think of him too long before tears congregate at the corners of my eyes. But I am comforted by the countless sweet memories I have of him from his large, soft hands to him telling me I looked pretty last October, the last time I remember seeing him in church before he came ill. 

I pray that your memories and the memories of members of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs of your precious Annabelle rush to your mind even as you grieve her loss. I’ve read that the church building will function as a memorial site today and this week rather than a site for church services. May all who enter the doors be surrounded by God’s love that overflowed there Sunday after Sunday despite the damage the devil inflicted there last Sunday…

With All of My Heart,

A Pastor’s Daughter

The First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs website has links to legitimate GoFundMe campaigns that have been created to support the families of the victims. One of those campaigns is the Sutherland Springs “Annabelle” Fund.  If you can donate, please do so.

Any thoughts?

Comedian, TV & Radio Personality Rickey Smiley Set to Release Debut Book ‘Stand By Your Truth: And Then Run For Your Life!’

Hello World,

Visit a church, comedy club, college campus, or barber shop, and it’s not easy to find people who aren’t familiar with, or lifelong fans of, Rickey Smiley and his outrageous morning show radio crew. As the host of the huge nationally syndicated The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, which draws in at least 4 million listeners every day, he’s also the star of his hit TV show Rickey Smiley for Real – one of the only reality show series to address life as a single dad. Plus, he has 8 chart-topping comedy albums.

But Rickey’s always had something more offer — and it’s more revealing than anything he’s done so far. STAND BY YOUR TRUTH: And Then Run for Your Life! (Gallery Books; Hardcover; October 24, 2017) is part memoir, part testimonial, and part life guide – mixing Rickey’s down-home humor with values learned from three generations of elders, the Baptist church, and some of the most celebrated mentors in entertainment (aka Steve Harvey).

Written as much for parents as it is for their young adults, STAND BY YOUR TRUTH offers tough-love conviction, both in turns funny and earnest, on straight talk such as:

  • How it’s impossible to come back from mistakes without self-forgiveness
  • Why “The Deadbeat Dad” is a myth
  • How to break out of that comfort zone — because you are not a chicken
  • The often untold ups and downs raising kids (and teenagers) as a single father
  • Proof success can only happen when opportunity meets long preparation
  • Ways speaking up for yourself is nothing to be ashamed of, so “Handle Your Business”
  • Why, now more than ever, our lives depend on what we stand for — and then sticking by it

In a time when we are craving world-wise humor as much as insight, STAND BY YOUR TRUTH by the one and only Rickey Smiley is here to deliver on both.

Pre-Order STAND BY YOUR TRUTH Today!

Any thoughts?

 

Greenleaf Recap Season 2 Episode 14: The Father’s Will…

Hello World,

Y’all, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to stay awake enough to take notes as I watched this week’s episode of OWN’s “Greenleaf,” after a looong first day back to work after Hurricane Irma! But chile, I worried in vain because the Lord provided the strength and the writers provided the shenanigans necessary to keep me scribblin’! I feel like I say this ere week, but this episode right here was a DOOZY, and I’m not sure how I feel about it all, but let’s discuss throughout this Greenleaf Recap Season 2 Episode 14: The Father’s Will.

Father Figure…

Last’s week episode ended with Bishop Jeffries of Charlotte, North Carolina initiating a cryptic call to Bishop Greenleaf, and this week’s episode begins with the bishops meeting face to face. Apparently when the chief counsel of Bishop Jeffries’ church had a stroke, he decided to fly to Montgomery, Alabama where his son Aaron the attorney now works for the Southern Poverty Law Center. He wanted to tell him about the job in person and surprises him at his apartment. But instead of surprising his son, Aaron surprises his father: Aaron and KEVIN were cozying up to one another so to speak! Bishop Jeffries is surprised for two reasons: the fact that his son is gay AND sleeping with Charity Greenleaf’s ex-husband! So I have so many questions about this scenario? Is Kevin living in Montgomery now? Did Aaron leave Calvary to pursue Kevin in Montgomery? Are they a couple? Greenleafers, help me out here…

Triumph’s new spiritual father Jacob Greenleaf and Kerissa are Marvin Gay getting it on too, as it’s Jacob first day on the job and Kerissa wants to start his day off right. In addition, she plans to show up late for her job to accompany him on his first day. I think she’s more excited than he is to be pastor of the megachurch.

Jabari, whom Charity probably hopes will be a father figure for Nathan, calls her with exciting news: Tamela Mann (who I interviewed) wants Charity to be a background singer on her tour!

Obviously, Aaron sees Bishop Greenleaf as a father figure and meets with him and his actual father in Memphis to discuss what his father discovered. He tells Bishop before the meeting, “I can’t change who I am” to which Bishop replies, “only God knows your heart,” citing 1st Kings 8:39. Aaron says, “Tell my father that. He will listen to you.” Bishop tells the father and the son once they are together, “Let’s try to find the will of the Father.”

Now that Charity is the sole provider (and parent) for her son, she doesn’t want to pass up the chance and asks Lady Mae if she can borrow their maid to be Nathan’s nanny for the 10 weeks she will be on tour with Tamela. Lady Mae hesitantly agrees and then drops one of her trademark one-liners. “It just seems like a lot of moving pieces to sing back up.”

Father, Forgive Them…

If Jacob and Kerissa thought they would just slide into roles of Pastor and First Lady without any pushback, they should have stayed outside. For one, Tasha’s office remains right next door to where her husband used to be. For two, Britney, Triumph’s treasurer is not a doormat, and the treasurer is an integral part of most organizations, particularly churches.

Bishop Jeffries continue to discuss Aaron’s sexuality with Bishop Greenleaf as a mediator. Bishop Jeffries throws out that his son is violating God’s word according to Romans 1. Aaron counters with, “Judge not lest you be judged.” Bishop Jeffries says, “The way that you are is unacceptable.” Bishop Greenleaf chimes in, “No wonder he kept it a secret. Who would choose this?”  Lady Mae meets with her husband afterward and cautions him against siding with Aaron, “The boy is not child. He’s not Faith.” What did she mean by that? Did Faith disappoint her parents somehow and they treated her the way Bishop Jeffries is treating Aaron? Did they regret their actions? Hmmm…

Back at Triumph, Jacob tells Britney that he wants to integrate people from Real Church, where he served the homeless, into Triumph. Britney cautions him against doing so because not everyone knows the financial specifics of what went down and how that would look odd to some church members.

After the meeting with his father and Bishop is done, Aaron sees Charity and approaches her. She looks like she wants to cuss him out but says with diplomacy, “How can I help you?” These are the words that he always said to Charity when she approached him about facilitating her divorce never suspecting that Aaron was cavorting with Kevin! He tries to apologize for his role in Kevin’s untimely departure. Charity is not trying to hear that. “He left his son without a father!” When Aaron tries to explain that Kevin left because he felt ashamed, Charity shut him down again. “I don’t care how he feels.” She tells him, “If I were a lesbian, I would still be a mother.”

Honor Your Father & Your Mother…

It seems like Aaron, his father and Bishop meet again. Bishop Jeffries asks, “Why can’t you just try to change?” Aaron tells his father that he already tried to change and failed. “It’s just me.” After he says, “I love you” to his father, he walks toward the door but stops when his father says he is glad that his mother passed before discovering he was gay. Aaron says,”She knew. I told her when I was 13.” Bishop Jeffries calls his son a liar before Aaron says, “She knew about you too. All of them. Just because you did it with women doesn’t mean it wasn’t a sin.” He got him there…

So this next scene where Zora and Sofia are preparing for the debutante cotillion was filmed at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Atlanta. I know because I attended a wedding in the very room where this scene was filmed. Anywho, Zora is reciting some “trap gospel” when her boyfriend Gospel Chris Brown otherwise known as Isaiah busts in the ballroom, calling attention himself as he is wearing shades inside and his baseball cap.

After Aaron spilled the tea on his father, Bishop serves it for Lady Mae. “He seemed to imply that Patrice knew about Lionel and other women.” “Women, plural?” Lady Mae responds. “He’s just making up stories to deflect from himself.” Lady Mae, who was friends with Bishop Jeffries’ deceased wife Patrice,  seems particularly riled up by the news about Bishop’s Jeffries’ serial infidelities and we will discover why later in the episode!

Wanting to appear congenial (the key word is “appear”), Kerissa invites Tasha, who still answers to “First Lady,” to the parsonage for dinner. During dinner, Tasha expresses concern about Basie’s whereabouts. “I hope he’s safe out there. I really miss him.” Jacob puts his hand on her hand while Kerissa, who is opposite Tasha, rolls her eyes.

Darius also makes dinner for Grace and she asks him, “Where does you see yourself in five years?” He says in a house with more land. (The Greenleaf estate, perhaps?) He also tells her that he wants to write a book. Grace further probes and asks him does he want children. He tells her that he is a bit too old to have children.

Once Bishop discusses what he learned with Lady Mae, the two of them meet with Bishop Jeffries, who is staying with them while he is in town. Bishop Jeffries apologizes for his son’s involvement in what happened with Charity. Lady Mae says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”  Bishop says, “Mae, let it go.” Lady Mae then cautions Charity about chasing a man and losing your self respect in the process. It seems like her advice comes from personal experience.

Father, father…

Gospel Chris Brown claims he was trying to be “incognegro” with his stunna shades on but totally contradicts that statement when he’s flirting with two or three of the other girls instead of supporting Zora. Sofia calls him out for it too. “The guy is the frame and the lady is the picture. Everything is always about you.” Isaiah gets mad and says, “This is some ish right there. I’m out.” Zora follows him outside to a courtyard where he knocks her into a column before apologizing yet again. “I don’t want to lose you Zora,” he says before telling her he loves her and that he will never abuse her again. What she sees in that boy I don’t know. But I’ve seen it for myself. Some women are attracted to abusers.  Like Chris Brown, Isaiah may have grown up in a household where he saw his father abuse his mother.

Later, Bishop Jeffries and Lady Mae have a conversation alone. She confronts him. “Were there other women?” When he doesn’t give her the answer she wants (plus calling her brother a rapist), she goes off. Apparently, she contemplated leaving her family for him not knowing that she was one of several women he was seeing! Lady Mae cheated on Bishop!!! Lady Mae says,”You’re just a space where a person should have been” and slaps the man!

Across town, Grace is having a better night than her mother. When Darius assures her that all he wants is her and doesn’t want to have children, she does not flee fornication. So how do you feel about an unmarried pastor having sex?

Jacob manages to get Kerissa to put aside her “First Lady” scheming aside (she wants Tasha to move her office to another location in Triumph) for one night at least so that the two can get their lovin’ on too. That woman is more like Lady Mae than her own daughters.

Speaking of Lady Mae, she is nowhere to be found when Bishop Greenleaf bids farewell to his friend in front of the Greenleaf home. “She’s not feeling well,” he tells Bishop Jeffries. Bishop Jeffries says, “Tell Mae I’m sorry we didn’t a chance to say goodbye.” Something about the way Bishop Jeffries says that statement has Bishop wondering, “what’s going on?” Father, Father…I’m sure things will escalate next week!!!

Check out a snippet from “The Father’s Will” below…

Thank you sooo much for reading my Greenleaf Recap, Season 2 Episode 14: The Father’s Will and my other recaps so far. If you would like to keep up with OWN’s “Greenleaf,” and my recaps, please click on this link to subscribe to my blog 🙂!

Any thoughts?