The Haunting of Southside Church of the Nazarene
Rev. Daniel R. Jennings, M.A.
The field of demonology has by in large overlooked the concept of demons possessing buildings, particularly churches while emphasizing the possession of human beings.1 It is the purpose of this article to narrate the events of one such church that appeared to have been inhabited by one or more demon spirits of which I was an eyewitness to some of the events.
story begins in the summer of 2002 with the little congregation of Southside
Church of the Nazarene.2 Southside was a small church
affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene denomination. In its heyday it had
counted 150-200 members but in recent years it had dwindled down to about
thirty-five. I am not sure exactly when Satan found an open door into this
congregation but things began to flare up around June when the church fired
their district appointed pastor. Instead of leaving he continued to show up on
Sunday mornings to preach even though they had stopped paying him a salary. In
August the district unexpectedly and suddenly showed up on a Sunday morning and
informed the congregation that this would be their last service and that
For some time the building sat vacant, under the control of the district, until it was decided to reopen it as a mission church in an attempt to reach out to the local immigrant community. An ordained Nazarene was installed as the pastor and the church was renamed in the language of the local immigrant community as “The Good Shepherd Church Of The Nazarene”. Under his leadership a new congregation grew and appeared to be heading towards becoming a healthy and thriving church. The pastor, his wife and three children moved into the church, turning one area into an apartment. At one point the pastor made an agreement with another pastor to allow his congregation to hold services in the basement of the church in a small chapel area.
Things seemed to be going well, although there was something admittedly creepy about the church building. It was an older building and older buildings have a tendency to be creepy but for those attending things began to go beyond just feeling creepy to actually experiencing creepy things.
One day, the pastor’s wife had come to the church for something and when she was in the basement she kept hearing the voices of children down the basement hallway. Every time she tried to follow the voices they seemed to be moving away from her and she could never find the source of the voices. The pastor himself stated that he felt uncomfortable going down into the basement and when a friend of his came to visit he expressed that he felt that there were demons in the church.
Eventually the pastor and his family moved out and three brothers moved into the church. One day the brothers very excitedly came to the pastor, telling him that they had seen a ghostly man dressed in all white inside of the church. They were convinced that it was an angel but the pastor and his wife had their reservations. On another occasion one of the brothers experienced hearing a mumbling in his ear, as if someone was speaking to him although he couldn’t understand what was being said.
The church itself also began to experience strange behavior on the part of its members. Whereas the church at one point had been thriving and growing many members decided to leave for no apparent reason. When asked why they left they expressed that they felt hurt and didn’t want to come back anymore, yet the pastor could not understand why they felt hurt. The other pastor’s congregation, who had been holding services downstairs, also experienced a strangely similar phenomenon. His membership dwindled down until he finally decided that there was no point in even having services anymore and he closed his church and started attending The Good Shepherd’s services.
It was around this time that I started attending The Good Shepherd. By the time we started attending the church that was meeting in the basement had closed and The Good Shepherd had dwindled down to about eight adults and a few children.
the pastor learned that I had graduated from
With the pastor’s approval I began to develop an evangelism program that would guide the church in how to pray and go out into the community to try and bring in new members.
Admittedly, there was a creepiness to the church, especially the basement. It was dark and old and I remember there being all of this old medical equipment (a wheelchair, crutches, etc.) that seemed to give it an even creepier feeling. Once, while exploring in the basement I found a room with a pool table and entering into the room to inspect it my attention was drawn way up high to a vent duct that ran across the ceiling where in very large letters (several feet wide) the word “Hello” had been written. The writing was sloppy (which added to its creepiness), and looked as if a child had written it. It was so high, that no child could have reached it and anyone who could have done it would have had to have stood on a chair or a table to reach that high. Still, I don’t know why anyone would be writing on the church property. I found this to be so strange that I came back another time with my camera to take a picture of it but when I went to turn on the light in the basement to go downstairs the light wouldn’t come on.
Behind the church was a smaller building that had been built to hold dinners and other fellowship activities. It was basically just a large room with a kitchen area. One morning the pastor’s wife came to prepare this building for an activity that was planned and discovered that a homeless woman had been living in there. Without asking for the pastor’s permission one of the three brothers who lived there had allowed this woman to sleep in the fellowship building. When the pastor’s wife found her the woman was very emotional exclaiming that there were “ghosts” in the church.
after starting the evangelism campaign I was forced to go to
up until this point I really had not made a connection between the things that
were going on in the church and the possibility of there being an actual
demonic presence that had taken up abode in the building. Up until this point I
had not been told anything about any of the supernatural occurrences that had
occurred nor did I know of any of the troubles that the first church (
the time I came back from
to my discouragement, while I was in
On a Wednesday night I shared the research that I had done and how that I felt that the church was under a real spiritual attack and that if we did not face the demonic presence attacking the church that it would close like the other two had. It was decided that a special series of prayer meetings would be scheduled during a future week. I had to miss the first meeting but told the pastor that I would be there the next day. However, when I showed up there was no one at the church and the front doors were locked. When I asked the pastor what had happened he said that he had forgotten I was coming and decided to cancel the meeting, which at the time struck me as rather odd.
At a Wednesday night service around this time the service was interrupted by a smoke alarm going off. When the pastor went to investigate he said that he smelled brimstone but could not locate any source for it. He appeared to be shaken up by this experience but he just kept on teaching.
At one point the pastor explained how we felt to the district superintendent but he didn’t seem to take the idea that the church could be under demonic attack very seriously and just encouraged him that pastoring would have its challenges.
The pastor eventually found an opportunity to move to another city to work with a Nazarene church there. A date was set for his last service, which was strangely decided to be held in the basement chapel rather than the main sanctuary. During this service a man dressed like a hippie, whom we had never met before, showed up for church. He smelled like cigarette smoke and said that he was going up north for an intercessory prayer meeting. During the meeting he kept leaving the chapel room, disrupting the service and he made noises that sounded like he was speaking in tongues in the meeting. A car alarm also noticeably went off causing another disruption to the service. To our surprise the District Superintendent announced that this would be the last service for The Good Shepherd and that everyone was encouraged to start attending another Nazarene church on the other side of town.
Some Final Thoughts
Now I would encourage everyone reading this to be careful not to be too superstitious. Old buildings have a tendency to be creepy by themselves (with or without demons). Perhaps the mysterious “HELLO” written on the vent duct was some teenager’s idea of a practical joke, and the light not working when I came to take a picture was just a burned out bulb. The car alarm may have just been that—a car alarm (which have a tendency to go off at inconvenient times). But the pastor’s wife hearing the mysterious voices of children in the basement, the individual who heard an unintelligible mumbling in his ear, the mysterious man in white seen moving through the church, the homeless woman who claimed that there were “ghosts” in the church, the unexplainable smell of brimstone that set off the smoke alarm, the mysterious behavior of the praise team leader and the many members who had left the church for no apparent reason, well, for these I just don’t have an answer.
may feel puzzled, wondering how did a demonic entity gain access to a church.
The Bible indicates that “the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking
whom he may devour (1Pet 5:8)” and that sin is an open door to the devil (2Cor
2:10-11). A church should never fire their pastor as
1 For historical instances of churches and buildings being inhabited by demons the reader is referred to Socrates Scholasticus’ account of a mansion inhabited by a Pythonic demon (Ecclesiastical History, 1:18), Daniel the Stylite’s experience in a demonically haunted church (The Life And Works Of Our Holy Father, St. Daniel The Stylite, Ch. 14-16), Increase Mather’s recorded accounts of persons who experienced stones and other objects being mysteriously thrown inside and outside of their homes (Remarkable Providences, Ch.5), and the haunted parsonage of the Rev. Samuel Wesley, father to Methodist Church founder John Wesley (An Account Of The Disturbances In My Father’s House).
2 Throughout this narrative I have had to withhold the names and identifying information about some of the persons involved out of fear that the denomination of the Church of the Nazarene, which is hesitant to believe in things like demon possession, would discriminate against one of the ministers involved. The names of the churches, however, are the actual names.