I recently had the opportunity to attend the play “Church Diary: Letting Go of Sacred Secrets and Private Wounds.” The play, adapted for dramatic presentation by Elder Jermaine Reed and Mary Coleman, was performed at Destiny Youth Plaza.
From the onset of the performance Elder Reed made clear that there were certain issues that the play sought to deal with directly. Those issues included but were not limited to: financial abuse, sexual abuse of children, ‘pastor worship,’ marital infidelity and clergy misconduct.
As a Christian and a pastor, I admit I was both intrigued about how the topics would be broached and concerned that the church universal not be bashed as a result of the misconduct of a small percentage of corrupt leaders. I, however, found that the play was not only charming, but overall it provided a fairly balanced snapshot of some of the things that can go wrong when the wrong people are left to lead.
Elder Reed was also forthcoming verbally and in writing in the playbill about the reality that more children are harmed in their own homes and schools than they are at church. Further, he made clear that the purpose of the play was not to be critical of the church universal, but rather to publicly address issues that are too often ignored.
“Church Diary” opens with five characters writing in their diaries about the current events in their lives. The subsequent scenes in the play reveal how each scenario unfolds in dramatic fashion. The play was polished and the actors performed well. I am certain that as the play tours audiences will enjoy the storylines tremendously. The adaptation is so well written that the guest vocalist, while a nice touch, is not an essential element in the production.
I believe that people who attend church regularly will especially appreciate the play as every character represented a stereotypical church scenario or character type. The play created laugh-out-loud moments for the audience as people shared in the trials and triumphs of the characters. This play was a also a reminder of the depth of talent in Milwaukee that is often unnoticed nationally.
A portion of the ticket sale proceeds and a separate donation was taken for the AIDS Resource Center. The fact that people stood in line during intermission to donate shows that there is a clear willingness in the African American church community to be of assistance in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This demonstration of love, support and awareness debunks the myth that African Americans are unaware of the major impact of HIV/AIDS in our community.
Reed and Coleman did a good job of balancing the need to address the crisis of HIV infection rates, the effects of infidelity, and the issue of homosexuality without compromising biblical truth.
Many people do not understand that just because the church community does not advocate certain lifestyles it in no way reflects a lack of concern and love for those who practice them. Too often Christians are bullied and marginalized as “old fashion,” “out of touch” and “irrelevant” for staying true to biblical texts which forbid pre-marital sex, adultery and homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments. The truth, quiet as it is kept, is that Judaism, Islam nor Christianity permits sexual abuse, sexual misconduct or homosexuality among their converts according to their foundational texts.
“Church Diary” makes clear that people should be able to trust that their leader and their church congregations respects, honors and follows the tenants of the faith in word and even more importantly, in deed.
People indeed have the right to feel and be safe in church – yet church has not done its full work until the members in the pews are empowered to know that they have a right to be safe wherever they are. We are the workmanship of God and He has never called any of His children of any age to be abused or to be abusers.
This week, celebrate the talent that is in Milwaukee and prepare to see “Church Diary” when it comes to a stage near you.