CHICK CHAT: I Was Sexually Harassed By A Preacher During His Sermon

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My BFF is fabulous! She’s extremely intelligent (she graduated two years early), a natural beauty and her personality is so sweet and sincere that on the rare occasion when she’s in some type of conflict, you can bet your last dollar that it’s the other person’s fault. Svelte in stature with the innocent face of a wide-eyed teen, she’s almost 27, but looks no older than 18. I’ve never been shocked or surprised when her winning personality and beauty garnered the attention of men—until this past Sunday.

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She and I talk just about every day. Most of the time it’s the usual chatter—”What you doin’?”, “I’m so hungry”; “What’d you eat today?”; “Giiiiiirl, did you see (Scandal, The Office, The Mindy Project; just depends on the day)”. And then, every once in a while, we may have to inform one another on something completely crazy that happened.

This Sunday, while hovered over my computer and a bowl of black bean soup at Panera Bread, she called:

Me: Hey girl!

Christi: What you doin’?

Me: Chillin’ in Panera doing some work.

Christi: Okay. Tell me why I visited this church today and the pastor called me “juicy!”

Me: Huh? Juicy?

In search of a place of worship in D.C., she decided to visit a church she found on Google. The members were welcoming and bubbly. The first lady scurried over to greet her with a hug, cheek kiss and “Hey, baby! Good to have you,” like only a church mother can.

The pastor also greeted her and asked the norm, “Do you have a church home? Where’d you move from? How long have you been in the area?” Thinking nothing of it, she answered his barrage of questions and about ten minutes later, the service started. The pastor announced, “Say amen for our visitor Christi, all the way from Georgia. She’s a Georgia peach, y’all.”

My BFF said she initially thought nothing of it because women from Georgia are in fact referred to as peaches. But when he followed up with, “Mmm Mmmm, juicyyyy! Juicy Georgia peach!”, Christi felt a little awkward and embarrassed—understandably so. She didn’t know how to interpret it, and though she felt like his tone and context came across a bit too sensual, she ignored it.

The service progressed and the awkward tension diminished. His message was spectacular and she was drawn into his in-depth scriptural knowledge. As old folks say, “The Spirit was high” and the congregation was “happy,” shouting out “Preach, doc,” “Gloraaaay,” “Take your time, Pastor” and other Black church clichés indicative that “The Spirit is moving.”

By this time, he had come down from the pulpit, hooping, hollering and pacing back and forth down the aisle. On his way back to the pulpit, he told the members, “Look at your neighbor and say, ‘You may see my glory, but you don’t know my story!’”

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As he made his way by Christi’s pew, he looked at her and said, “Juicy!” again! It was random and seemingly came from nowhere. When he stepped back on the pulpit, he rendered one last, “Juicy!” for good measure before closing. Equally confused and uncomfortable, Christi just sat. A lady sitting near her had the same perplexed and humiliated look on her face and shouted out, “Alright, now. That’s enough, Rev!” Christi left immediately after benediction, still uncertain of what “Juicy!” actually meant in that context and why he kept saying it.

Though her experience was humorous to me and lent some “juicy” material to write about, I understood her frustration and confusion. Still very inappropriate, it wouldn’t have been as bizarre if the married pastor tried to indirectly make a pass at her behind closed doors instead of in front of the entire congregation.

I found it oddly outrageous that his wife seemed unbothered by the remarks and at one point even chuckled. As a church girl myself, I’ve seen and heard it all–preachers having affairs with missionaries, deacons having secret children and then the famous cases like Bishop Eddie Long’s.

All of these instances have been carried out in the dark and with time, revealed to the light. Never have I heard of such a thing where a Man of God so directly and publicly made an ambiguous remark that could have easily been interpreted as inappropriately sexual. I couldn’t help but correlate this with the declined regard of Christianity in our community. While I think your religious walk should be solid, rooted in your personal relationship with God and therefore unshaken by faulty behaviors of man, I totally get why carnal Christians become turned off and doubt the sincerity and validity of us “good Christian folk.”

My girl still doesn’t know exactly how to take this and is disappointed that she was so close to finding a home church. Like a story-hungry writer, I told her to go back—mainly to have a follow-up in case something crazy popped off. With love, she told me I was triflin’ for using her misfortune to my gain. I’m not sure what she’ll do though.

What would you do? Has anything similar ever happened to you? Let’s keep in touch. Follow me on Twitter: @VerityReign!

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