Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stirring Memorial Service for Pastor Jerry

by Rev. Austin Miles

Brentwood, California (5/14/11). For events expecting large crowds in the Bay Area's East County, Golden Hills Community Church is usually the chosen venue. The cavernous sanctuary was almost filled to capacity this morning as the crowd filed in, coming in from as far away as Los Angeles and San Diego to memorialize Pastor Jerry Hanoum, driven to suicide by the newspapers.
Over a hundred pastors attended, and several area churches pitched in to bring food for a reception and helped served the food. It was a time of refreshing unity. Love filled the air.
Speaker after speaker including three ministers had a hard time keeping composure as they spoke about the flamboyant preacher who had a big heart. It was told how a visitor admired a motorcycle the pastor had that was his pride and joy, and as the visitor expressed how much he liked it, Pastor Jerry said, "Take it…it's yours." That is the kind of man he was.

He had been the subject of scathing newspaper headlines based upon accusations of financial improprieties which could have been reported in one story with facts.

Instead, the reporters concentrated on attacking his character in general in a series of front page stories that brought suspician on Mountain View Christian Center itself, a church very active in community outreach activity which fed and clothed 1000 people a month, a chaplaincy program on call when needed and helping addicts kick the habit.
Pastor Joe Seeley makes a trip to Stockton every week for that very reason, to meet with those struggling with addiction. MVCC is a very caring church. Yet the newspapers wanted to destroy the church as well; a church that has done so much for the community. They not only wanted to but were determined to.

Week after week the headlines blared against Pastor Jerry until he was driven to suicide. In his suicide note, read at the service by his daughter Tiffany, he wrote how he could "no longer endure the accusations in news print that had influenced the public."  It crushed him.

Indeed, yet another front page "expose' " was already written and ready to break on Friday, May 6th. That story had to be changed to herald Pastor Jerry's death. The newspapers still got their sensational front page story.
Tears flowed freely at the Memorial Service. Sounds of quiet sobbing could be heard throughout the sanctuary. One consistent theme was that Pastor Jerry was a man of love. And he was just that.
No newspaper reporters were spotted at the service. One would think they would have been there to monitor the results of their efforts. They succeeded in their goal. They destoryed a pastor and hurt a church that was so giving to the community. It is too bad that they never took the time to get to really know Pastor Jerry. He was quite a guy.

Again, the saga of Pastor Jerry could have been professionally reported with one story instead of the constant week after week pounding. Had the newspapers acted responsibly, this memorial service today would never have happened. And possibly debts would have eventually been paid.
An attendee of his church, Jaime Espinoza, who has his own facebook page, wrote: "This should be a reminder to EVERYONE to constantly pray for their pastors. A big Amen to that.
For a history of the events leading to his suicide, see the previous stories, including Reporters Who Kill, on this