BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
By: Jill Foley – July 1993
The Gospel Assembly Church on Meredith Drive seems to be a fairly large issue on some people's minds. I really never cared until the rumors began. From "near murders" to "girls in all black throwing arm gestures" to "Cadillac led processions," stories were spreading. Then, later one night, a bunch of us ventured to "the satanic church." We took three cars and headed down. When we arrived, four of us got out and began to illegally roam around the church premises. I felt as if someone was about to attack me by falling from one of the tall, dark, mysterious trees.
But now that idea is absurd to me. That night I thought and thought about the sacrifices these people make. They have their own community, sort of a colony. I guess I really began to respect the idea of people that believed in ideas so much, dedicating their lives to learning and not getting caught up in what most of us consider important. And so, I decided to learn more. I read on the sign that the next church service would be held Sunday at 7:30 p m so I asked a few people if they'd like to go. I got a negative response, but it worked out better that way. Sunday night came and I approached the front door. When I nervously walked through the four men dressed in black suits, I decided to remain completely open-minded. One man ushered me to an empty pew. Everyone in the entire congregation turned to see who I was. Was it because I didn't dress the same? Was it because all the women had their long thin hair up in some sort of wrap and mine was hurriedly thrown into a simple ponytail? Or was it because I was from the outside - a newcomer. I suppose I just threw things out of balance by being unknown.
The environment was very warm and caring. I started to realize that this place was seething with joy, not anger. People in various spots would turn and smile - to sort of welcome me. The woman in front of me, Melanie even invited me to sit by her. Throughout the two and a half-hour service, she explained things - like why they had a repetitious, four lined song. It went on and on and on, the same verse over and over. She said it was to lose concentration and begin to use your spirit. As I write this, I do not understand, but at that time, it all seemed so clear. Another different manner of the Pentecostal Church is that they pray in unison. It's a scriptural practice I found out. They're not opposed to the individual leading out alone in prayer; this too, is scriptural. However, they believe without praying in unison, "It would rob our people of a glorious opportunity for blessing and power."
I heard people crying out loud that night. I wondered if it was a scriptural, fanaticism, or an emotional outburst. Was it genuine or just screams of wanted attention? I wanted to know. Melanie explained that the Bible states that Jesus "Cried with a loud voice," and that people should worship with their full heart and soul. It isn't something you can force yourself to do, but it comes spontaneously because you're in touch with God and the Holy Spirit. Many different occurrences made me wonder why people follow this religion.
I wondered why they divide females and males. I asked around, but no one had an answer to justify my question. Someone said, "So the brothers don't see the sisters fall." This confused me more than before. I couldn't tell if I was being completely ignorant or if they were being completely indirect. It also came about that materialism was good and how happy they were to see success in attaining worldly goods. I didn't understand their basis for this. But by that time the women surrounding me were all "questioned-out", so I did not pursue the answer.
When the service finally ended at 10:00 I got my pamphlets, given to me by the pastor, and left. Everyone happily said good evening and said I was welcome to come back.
In the car, on the way home, I thought about how foolish I was to think of that church as being something it wasn't. I had no reason to judge. This is why I decided to write this - to kind of educate people about those once known as "devil worshipers." I went and felt welcome. It was unique and a definite experience to remember. I respect those people a lot. I just thought this writing would make some people realize how stupid the whole idea of creating a mysterious place - just for adventure - was. Maybe if I ever go by there again late at night, I won't fear the dark unknown in the trees.
Left: THE GOSPEL ASSEMBLY CHURCH ON MEREDITH DRIVE HAS BEEN A FAIRLY LARGE ISSUE ON SOME PEOPLE'S MINDS LATELY. JUNIOR JILL FOLEY WENT TO A SERVICE THERE AND DISCOVERED WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE.
READ MY LETTER TO JILL