When Pastor John Moore decided to invite renowned televangelist Juanita Bynum to preach at his Experience Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, last Sunday, he said he was warned it could cost him. Perhaps even more than the $3,000 down payment, half the offering collected and other charges she exacted from his church of fewer than 100 members.
But Moore said he didn’t listen. He was too excited by the idea of making history with his Breaking the Rules conference featuring the international prophetess and Pastor Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
“I was advised by some senior bishops — and my lawyer — not to invite her, but I didn’t listen to the senior leaders. I wanted to be one of the first millennial pastors to host Dr. Bynum. And as a result of not listening to senior leaders I got burned,” Moore told The Christian Post this week.
The conference held at his 5-year-old church was touted as a “game changer for entrepreneurs, ministries, businesses and creative visionaries” on online posters reflecting Bynum’s smiling likeness.
On Sunday, the day she was expected to fire up Moore’s already charged church with a powerful word from God, Bynum broke down in tears during a Facebook Live broadcast.
She explained how she was forced to cancel her appearance at Moore’s church because the 35-year-old married preacher allegedly entered her nearly $500 a night room at the Hilton Norfolk The Main hotel uninvited. He allegedly saw her underwear and other clothes laid out while she was not in the room as reported by a staff member of the hotel to her assistant, and she was too shaken to preach.
“The fact that I’m getting ready to go and stand in somebody’s pulpit who’s seen my underwear, I’m sorry people, I just felt naked and I still do and just felt so violated,” Bynum said in the Facebook Live broadcast shortly after midnight.
“I said to my assistant, ‘What do you mean he’s been in my room? … You mean like been in my room and saw all my underwear?’ And she said, ‘Yes ma’am.’ And I said, ‘Well, how do you know that?’ And she said because the secretary called upstairs,” Bynum said.
She then explained that the hotel’s manager had called her assistant to ask why she had two rooms booked in her name. Bynum said her assistant told the manager that she did not have two rooms in her name but checked in with Bynum’s credentials as she is accustomed to do which gave her permission to prepare the room.
The manager said Bynum asked if all of her “stuff, her underwear [was] laid out over everything like the pastor said it is?”
Moore insisted that he meant no harm when he entered Bynum’s room. “I never seen any underwear, none of that,” he told The Christian Post. He also said he never made the claim to any Hilton staff member that he had seen Bynum’s underwear.
“Absolutely not. That is a lie,” he said.
And after trying and failing to meet the televangelist’s long list of exacting demands, Moore said he still hasn’t formally met the woman who left him all by himself to explain to a crowd of more than 300 people, some of whom had traveled from several states to see her, why she wasn’t going to preach God’s Word as planned on Sunday.
“That was one of the most awkward moments of my life that I will never ever forget. I told the people, we appreciate and we honor Dr. Juanita Bynum and her gift but unfortunately, Dr. Bynum will not be here tonight. She is in town and she is in her room. But because of unforeseen circumstances that are out of my hands, she will not be here tonight. … The people stood up with applause and we continued to move on in the service,” he said.
Women in ministry
While some critics thought Bynum’s controversial broadcast of what happened was an overreaction, the incident has sparked a deep conversation about privacy and decorum, and drew swift support from women in ministry. Theologian Candice Marie Benbow and others argue that Moore was out of line when he entered Bynum’s room uninvited.
“Juanita Bynum had every right not to preach at Experience Church. I honestly don’t know any male pastor, with good sense or intentions, who would go into a woman’s hotel room without her knowledge or consent. He was foul. She was right,” wrote Benbow on Twitter Wednesday.
“I have preached and done workshops for pastors I have known for years … men I consider my brothers—NEGROES WHO HAVE SEEN ME IN MY BONNET ON FACETIME—and they have NEVER gone into my room when I was there in a professional capacity. It’s just some things you don’t do,” she continued.
“Women have a right to feel safe and that was a breach of safety. Add to that, he had absolutely no regard for her reputation. He didn’t even care about what it meant for her, a black clergywoman, to have a man — the pastor no less — seen going into and coming out of her hotel room,” Benbow continued.
“Do y’all know how hard some sisters work to keep their names and reputations intact only for this [and y’alls little post preaching meals where y’all talk about sisters over chicken wings] to ruin it?! And when brothers and sisters in ministry reduce her decision to an overreaction, I be wanting y’all to give y’all degrees and ordination credentials back. Because y’all don’t read and you don’t listen.”
Moore said he has hosted several high profile preachers at his church before, but Bynum was the most famous female preacher he had ever invited to an event. Usually, he said, it is his wife who handles the welcome of female preachers but she was out of town at the time he entered Bynum’s room.
When he contracted her to preach at the conference on July 21, Moore said they negotiated a down payment of $3,000 plus half of the night’s offering as well as airfare, accommodation, and other travel expenses for her and her staff. The contract also came with several ridersexplaining how Bynum wanted things to be handled, such as the type of car she wanted to be picked up in at the airport.
Moore said he was working hard on the contract to make sure Bynum had a good experience in Virginia and things were exactly as she wanted, but her staff made things difficult for him.
Here’s what happened, according to Moore.
Moore said he went to the hotel on July 20 to make sure everything was fine and then on Saturday, before her arrival, he delivered some “goodies” which he gives to all of the church’s guests “just to say thank you.”
The hotel staff initially gave Moore a key to a room he discovered was not Bynum’s, he said. They later gave him another key to her room but when he got there he saw luggage inside and assumed that he was in the wrong room again because Bynum wasn’t yet in town. He was aware that her staff, including her assistant Uneika Chambers, had arrived early and were supposed to be in their own rooms.
He explained that Bynum was supposed to arrive in Virginia on Saturday morning but her arrival was delayed by several hours so he decided to use the opportunity to personally deliver the church’s welcome packet which included a framed photograph of Bynum which triggered the unfortunate series of events that ended with the prophetess canceling her appearance and taking all his money with her too.
“With all of our guests, my wife would normally be there. Because we are from Virginia, we like to show Southern hospitality, and so we go above and beyond to show our guests that we really appreciate them. Knowing that Dr. Bynum wasn’t gonna be there until later on, I wanted to put those items in her room very quickly and leave,” Moore said.
“When I opened up the room, the suite, it’s like a hallway. To the right is the bathroom and the bed area. But as soon as I opened the door I saw these black luggage. I said, ‘Hello, hello, is there anyone in here? There wasn’t a response. Immediately I walked out of the room,” he said.
Moore explained that he didn’t “go far” into the room because he was alarmed by the luggage he thought belonged to another guest. He immediately went to the hotel staff and complained that there was somebody inside Bynum’s hotel room and it needed to be fixed.
And that’s when the hotel staff reached out to Bynum’s assistant, Uneika Chambers, and informed her that Moore had set foot inside the prophetess’ room and seen her underwear, according to Bynum’s Facebook post.
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Source: Christian Post