After three interviews and spending $9 for subway rides into the city, the Middle Collegiate Church failed to offer this unemployed saint a job as a minister’s assistant.
The interviews were challenging, the first being a phone interview with a comfortably gay office layperson named Russel Suggs. It seemed odd speaking with a queen from a Protestant Church, especially after learning the church is the oldest Protestant church in North America and was established before America gained Independence. King Henry granted a charter for the church to be established in the colonies. The place is an institution, but has changed to suit the needs of the East Village Community and is run more like a soup kitchen than a place of worship.
Mr. Suggs seemed impressed with my qualifications and referred me with an in-person meeting with Pastor Chad Tanaka Pack, a decaffeinated version of a senior pastor, but a man with the Christ close to his heart,who explained during a lengthy first interview, that he left his job at Goldman Sacs for the ministry following a ‘revelation’ where he discovered Christ.
A follow-up interview was scheduled for this past Monday with two additional pastors for whom the minister’s assistant would serve as holy secretary. Biographies were available on-line regarding the two pastors with whom I would possibly work. One of the Assistant Pastors, Rev. Thorne, was once a dancer with the Dance Theater of Harlem. She introduced herself to me in the lobby and explained that she needed to “Go find Pat,” before the interview got started.
Suddenly, a black man, obviously a crack head, started pounding on the large glass doors that lead to the church offices. I sat, unmoved in a moment of relaxed contemplation, but then the man found the door buzzer. My resume was resting on a well-worn, stained cushion bench next to another young gay man who was obviously at the church for an interview as well. The man pounding on the door was frantic and for a moment, it seemed like there was really something terrible happening outside on the streets of New York. He screamed insanities as tears rolled down blood-shot eyes. A woman with the half-naked man shouted through the glass– “He wants someone to pray over him! Ain’t dis a church? He needs someone to pray over him.”
Pastor Thorne quickly ran to greet the demon possessed man and shouted, without opening the doors– “First put your shirt on. This is a church. You seem like you are on something.”
“Something is trying to kill me,” the skinny man explained. “It’s after me. You gotta pray over me,” The man cried.
Pastor Thorne quietly escorted the man away and took him to a secret place at the back of the church, behind the soup kitchen and food pantry.
Needless to say, the interview did not go in my favor despite a sincere effort on my part to explain that the real reason I wanted to work as a minister’s assistant is because in my view, a progressively liberal, openly gay Protestant Church is the only place in the world where one can go for an interview in a time when we are all so desperate, just for someone to pray over us. But that crazy man somehow stole my shine.
Mr. Suggs encouraged me in an e-mail to feel free to attend services at Middle Collegiate Church. Instead, I shook the dust from my mouse pad as a testimony against them and moved on in my search for stillness of heart and a way to pay the bills in a society where Protestantism is just another job.