Pastor of Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church defends playing an explicit Jay Z song during church service. “The Story of OJ” from Jay’s “4:44” album was accompanied by an interpretive praise dance by three of the church’s youth before Reverend Marcus Murchinson began his sermon. A video of the performance went viral to the disdain of many. After receiving a great deal of criticism, the pastor spoke out calling his critics n*ggas.
The Watts pastor is unapologetic and stands firm in his conviction that “God can handle a few expletives in church.” The minister claims it is hypocritical to think that every hero in the Bible was singing “Amazing Grace” when enduring difficult situations. He added:
The truth is sometimes when I’m praying, my prayers are not ‘guide me o thy great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land.’ I’m not quoting from the 23rd Psalm. I’m not quoting from Philippians. Sometimes my prayers have explicit language in them. God I am bleep, bleep, bleep upset. And because of that, I learned that God can handle that.
In 2013, Pastor Rodney Wills was voted out as pastor of Mt. Salem Baptist Church in North Carolina for attending a Rick Ross concert. The 26-year-old pastor arrived at church the next day for Sunday morning worship service and notice his parking sign had been taken down and his name removed from the office door. The deacons also asked another minister from the community to officiate the service that morning. When asked about the sudden decision to fire the young minister, a deacon of the church said:
We cannot have our leader supporting people of this world who are tearing down the kingdom of God.
The congregants of Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church reportedly have no problem with the performance or harsh criticism. Murchinson said he warned the parishioners weeks prior and said they had been praying and were prepared. The church fully supports their pastor and his decision to allow the explicit Jay Z song as part of their worship experience. The pastor has advised members not to defend him because the church’s uniqueness will be all the vindication needed.
The decision to include the rapper’s song was due to the results of a study the church conducted in the local area asking why the many in the neighborhood shunned church. Many of the people questioned had lost respect for the black church and said it no longer represented the mouthpiece of God, but instead only focused on money. Now, as a prophetic voice for their community, the people had turned their attention to artists such as Chance the Rapper and Jay Z.
At the time, Murchinson was not familiar with Chance but knew the music and history of rapper Shawn “Jay Z” Carter. He has since completed personal research on Chance the Rapper and noted how much financial support he has sown into the city of Chicago in hopes of making it a better place. In defense of including Jay Z’s music on the last Sunday of July, the pastor said:
The one thing that’s apparent about language is that there’s a difference between cursing or using derogatory language and using colloquial language. What Jay Z was using in this particular presentation was not inflammatory or derogatory. He was making a point to just communicate in a colloquial dialect that people understand … Ain’t a word in that song that I don’t know myself, that my congregation doesn’t know and or have used. So why do we come into God’s house and act like we don’t know it?
The video of the presentation quickly went viral. The musician that shared the video was fired for violating the church’s internet policy. John Bernard, Jr., the minister of music, also defended the inclusion of the hit song. He said the problem is people only saw a snippet of the full presentation and therefore do not have a complete understanding of the intended message.
Another person agreed that not all are in disagreement. This woman had viewed the full sermon and enjoyed it. She also stated that the clean version of the song, instead of the one with expletives, might have been a better choice. However, the pastor defends playing the explicit Jay Z song and, adding insult to injury, called critics n*ggas.
WARNING EXPLICIT LYRICS
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Christian Post: Pastor Defends Use of Explicit Jay-Z Song in Service, Says He Curses in Prayer Sometimes Too
AJC: Watts church uses Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” in praise dance
Liberty Voice: North Carolina Pastor Fired for Attending Rick Ross Concert
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