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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.

            Our 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 Southside Church of the Nazarene would be closing. The following day they changed the locks on the building effectively shutting down the church. When the members, some of whom had attended there for over fifty years, went to check the church’s bank account they realized that the district had told the bank not to allow anyone to withdraw funds from the account because the money was involved in a dispute and should not be allowed to be withdrawn until the dispute was settled. When the church members protested over the seizure of their church building and bank account, an amount equaling some $64,000, the district pointed out that according to the denomination’s manual when a church closes the district is entitled to all of the property. Southside Church members asked the district to allow the Nazarene headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, to settle the arguments over the money but the district refused. The bank with whom the funds were deposited then filed a lawsuit asking the secular courts to decide who the rightful owner was. Southside church filed a motion asking the courts to allow the denomination’s headquarters to settle the matter. The district quickly filed a motion with the courts claiming ownership of the money. After reviewal by a judge it was decided that the issue should be relegated to the State Supreme Court where the courts decided in favor of the district over Southside Church.

            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.

            When the pastor learned that I had graduated from Bible College he immediately gave me the right hand of fellowship and asked me to come and help him with the ministry of the church. At the time I was serving in the Air Force but I readily joined in as best I could to help them out. My initial impression was that they were just a struggling congregation that needed some encouragement and that with prayer, fasting and hard work God would help us to get on track.

            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.

            Soon after starting the evangelism campaign I was forced to go to Saudi Arabia for four months because of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. The pastor and myself had spent quite a bit of time thinking, talking and praying about getting the church back on its feet so this was a great disappointment to both of us that I would have to leave for several months. My wife also, would be going back to her hometown for the duration of my deployment.

            Now 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 (Southside Church of the Nazarene) had experienced in their battle with the district.

            By the time I came back from Saudi Arabia things in the church had gotten worse. The praise team leader, a young woman who had lived with the pastor and was going to school to go into full time ministry, had started dating an unbeliever, left the church and turned against the pastor and his wife and would have nothing to do with them. After my return the pastor and his wife began to share the supernatural things with me. I also did research on the first congregation that had met in the building and I realized that of the three churches that had met in the building (Southside, The Good Shepherd, and the downstairs congregation) all of them had went through a similar pattern in that they all ended up dwindling down. Two had closed and I knew that if something was not done soon The Good Shepherd was fast heading in the same direction.

            Much to my discouragement, while I was in Saudi Arabia the pastor had decided to try and find another church to minister in. There had not been the kind of support from the district that was really necessary to keep the church going and it seemed like the best thing was to just uproot and start anew somewhere else.

            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.

            Readers 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 Southside Church did (1Th 5:12-13, Heb 13:17). Even if there was a legitimate reason they should have worked through the established channels and procedures in the Church of the Nazarene for handling a situation like that and if that did not prove satisfactory to them just left the church. (A pastor won’t stay long if there is no one putting tithe money in the offering plate for him to have a salary). This may have been the open door for Satan into this building but, in my opinion, the fact that this situation happened (after a decline in membership) is an indicator that Satan was already at work there. Regardless there must have been an open door and it is quite possible that it was not a single incident that opened the door but perhaps a trend on the part of the members and regular attendees of the church to neglect prayer and fasting for themselves and for their church. Jesus was very clear with his disciples that some demons will not be defeated without prayer and fasting (Mt 17:14-21). This was part of the reason that the Good Shepherd Church closed. Even though I tried to encourage the pastor to stay and fight the demon through prayer and fasting and direct confrontation with it, his heart was already set on finding another church by the time we realized what was happening. He was already discouraged with what he perceived to be a lack of support from the district (a lack that was clearly there) and the prospect of uprooting and starting anew was just more appealing than staying and fighting.

            Today the Southside Church of the Nazarene building sits empty. No church holds it services there and I dare say that any who try without directly challenging the evil spiritual force that has taken up residence in that building will end up like the last three congregations—dwindling down until they are forced to close their doors.
















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.


































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